Tuesday, 21 February 2017
Of the 2,145 species studied forty-seven per cent of land-based animals and over twenty-three per cent of threatened birds may have already been negatively impacted by climate change
Species’ traits influenced their response to recent climate change
Michela Pacifici, Piero Visconti, Stuart H. M. Butchart, James E. M. Watson, Francesca M. Cassola & Carlo Rondinini
Although it is widely accepted that future climatic change—if unabated—is likely to have major impacts on biodiversity1, 2, few studies have attempted to quantify the number of species whose populations have already been impacted by climate change3, 4. Using a systematic review of published literature, we identified mammals and birds for which there is evidence that they have already been impacted by climate change. We modelled the relationships between observed responses and intrinsic (for example, body mass) and spatial traits (for example, temperature seasonality within the geographic range). Using this model, we estimated that 47% of terrestrial non-volant threatened mammals (out of 873 species) and 23.4% of threatened birds (out of 1,272 species) may have already been negatively impacted by climate change in at least part of their distribution. Our results suggest that populations of large numbers of threatened species are likely to be already affected by climate change, and that conservation managers, planners and policy makers must take this into account in efforts to safeguard the future of biodiversity.
Climate Home, 21 February 2017:
Seaweeds, invertebrates, fish and giant, ethereal kelp jungles are among a group of more than one hundred species that are being driven towards extinction by warming waters around Tasmania, an Australian senate inquiry has heard.
Neville Barrett, a research fellow at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies in Hobart, where the hearing was held, told the Environment and Communications References Committee that the waters around Tasmania were a global hotspot for warming.
“I mentioned that there were 100 or more species in general of kelps and endemic fishes and things that will probably disappear over the coming century, certainly by the turn of the next century under the current bottom end of predictions of climate change,” he told Climate Home after his appearance.
“There’s a whole lot of species on the southern end of Australia that are as far south as they can currently go and some of them are already pushed to their upper thermal limit, as far as summer temperatures will go.”
Beyond Tasmania, there is no major landmass until Antarctica, meaning many species have “nowhere else to go”, said Barrett.
One such species is the giant kelp, Macrocystis pyrifera, the last stands of which Climate Home reported had been lost from Tasmania’s east coast in 2016.