COP25 special collection: Keep climate change impacts under control by making biodiversity a focus

November 27, 2019

Under a 2°Celsius warming scenario, 80 to 83% of language areas in New Guinea--home to the greatest biological and linguistic diversity of any tropical island on Earth--will experience decreases in the diversity of useful plant species by 2070, according to a new study. "This study is the first to evaluate the potential impact of climate change across New Guinea's ecosystems and indigenous lands, and to propose a climate-smart expansion of protected areas that accounts for both biodiversity and cultural traditions," says author Rodrigo Cámara Leret. The report is part of a final group of papers published in a Science Advances Special Collection that - through research published in 2018 and 2019 - illustrates the scientific community's increased understanding of interactions between biodiversity and climate. The collection's final installment this week comes on the eve of the 25th United Nations Climate Change summit (COP25), which will be held in Spain this December. "Evidence [in the studies in this collection] suggests that the negative impacts of climate change can be kept under control if we collectively act and, critically, use biodiversity as part of the solutions we invent," write Science Advances editors Pablo Marquet, Shahid Naeem, Jeremy Jackson, and Kip Hodges in a related editorial.

Also in this installment of the Special Collection, a study by Brian Enquist et al. uses a global plant observation dataset accounting for 435,000 species to measure the fraction of existing land plants considered rare. It finds that about 36.5% of the plant species are exceedingly rare, suggesting rare species are disproportionately at risk and greater global efforts are required to conserve the biodiversity hot spots where they tend to exist. A review by Derek Tittensor et al. concludes that the goals of marine protected areas (MPAs) must be adjusted to account for broader climatic changes, which are expected to hinder conservation efforts from maintaining ecosystems in their current states or restoring them to previous baselines. By analyzing the available literature, Peter Convey and Lloyd Peck find that the arrival of non-native species to Antarctica--which has so far been thwarted by the harsh environment--may pose a greater threat to Antarctic ecosystems than climate change itself. Additionally, a review by Francisco Pugnaire et al. observes that important gaps remain in research on how specific aspects of climate change and elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide levels will affect plant-soil interactions.

American Association for the Advancement of Science

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