Presentation on theme: "Rob Brooker, Macaulay Institute Biodiversity and Climate Change."— Presentation transcript:
Rob Brooker, Macaulay Institute Biodiversity and Climate Change
Talk content: What is the risk from climate change for biodiversity? Are we communicating this risk? Is this leading to action? Development of climate change adaptation strategies Identification of risk Communication of the risk Action to minimise the risk (mitigation) or deal with its consequences (adaptation) (inherent bias towards plants and terrestrial systems – apologies to lovers of marine animals…)
What is the risk The distribution of species and composition of natural communities (biodiversity) is regulated by a suite of environmental filters, e.g. plant communities: Possible climate effects Changing environmental conditions New interactions or changes in interactions that already occur Animal movement or seed production
Consequences of climate impacts on these processes Changes in the interactions in communities Climate regulates potentially dominant species. Improved climate (e.g. in arctic/alpine) – increased competition Cornelissen et al (2001) J. Ecol More competitive species become more abundant in arctic/alpine systems (e.g. shrubs and grasses)
A. New colonization B. Patch filling C. Individuals getting larger e.g. Changes in abundance of shrubs in tundra systems C B A C B A Sturm et al. (2006) Global Change Biology Increasing system productivity
Consequences of climate impacts on these processes Changes in phenology (timing of biological events) alter competitive balance Monitoring shows: Shift toward earlier spring Variation in response between species: early species are most responsive
Consequences of climate impacts on these processes Dunnett & Grime (1999) Functional Ecology warmed control Mean number of shoots of Cirsium arvense Warming-induced shifts in phenology are related to dominance later in the season
Consequences of climate impacts on these processes Loss or gain of species in communities, via direct climate limitations or impact on community processes, leads to range shifting 2050 Low2050 HighNow e.g. Climate envelope modelling of UK species Berry et al. (2002)
Observed responses Changes in timing of biological events Earlier bud burst and flowering in plants (particularly early-blooming and herbaceous species) UK butterfly species appearing earlier Amphibian and bird species breeding earlier Migrating bird species arriving earlier Increase in length of growing season by approx. 10 days ( ) Increased greenness of vegetation Changes in survival, population sizes and local densities of organisms, and interactions in communities Increased winter survival of common bird species in UK Increase in native species with a wide, southerly European distribution and decrease in species with a very northerly European distribution Loss of cryptogams from expansion of more competitive species Movement of species distributions (range shifting) Northward shift of bird species in UK Northerly movement of holly Ilex aquifolium Upward shift of the distributional limits of plant species including the tree line Decline in specialist species in arctic areas Selective impact of range shifting Selection of insect species with increased dispersal ability
Future responses Distributions of major species groups and biomes likely to shift polewards and toward higher altitudes Particularly high species turnover in the Mediterannean and Euro-Siberian regions High arctic environments on European mainland trapped between expanding southern vegetation zones and the Arctic Ocean Mountain species suffer enforced reduction of habitat area with increasing altitude and reduced capacity for latitudinal migration Reduced distribution of coastal and intertidal habitats from combined pressure of sea level rise and coastal development
The role of interactions in communities - disjunction between commonly interacting species and the development of novel interactions Species are not consistent unchanging units - they may evolve in response to selective pressures during range shifting. Interaction between increased atmospheric CO 2 concentrations and climate change - CO 2 concentrations may regulate biotic processes and biodiversity responses will influence future changes in CO 2 concentrations Societal and economic responses, and future economic and political development - influence the development of sectoral activities that in turn influence biodiversity, both in terms of its status and its capacity to respond to climate change. Introduction of invasive species including pest and disease vectors Non-linear future responses - current trends in populations and ranges are based upon historical datasets: future climate scenarios, if realised, place natural systems within a climate context that they have not previously experienced. Major sources of uncertainty As we decrease the scale of the prediction, we increase the uncertainty – generalities are easy to predict but the specifics are very hard Very rough outline of impacts and quick overview… communication and action?
Are we communicating this risk? Generic problems of communicating ecological science… or? Some scientists are reticent communicators Despite the efforts of those scientists that do try to communicate with the media, theres an inherent species bias…
Are we communicating this risk? However climate change is big news…
Are we communicating this risk? However climate change is big news… A dangerous thing ?
How are we communicating risk? Normally neglected groups get a look-in… Perhaps biodiversity messages do better in the climate change context
Some difficulties remain Communicating uncertainty – 1) complex and 2) provides hope? Even bad science can survive and get a high profile Hope is nature's veil for hiding truth's nakedness. -- Alfred Nobel.
Does communication lead to action? Biodiversity conservation loses out in the policy arena (EEA 2004) Why? There is an urgent need to demonstrate that there is no dichotomy between economic growth and environmental protection - Watson 2005 The perception that non-action is a cheaper alternative Conflict with other sectors and particularly strong lobby groups
Does communication lead to action? There is an urgent need to demonstrate that there is no dichotomy between economic growth and environmental protection. Watson 2005 Biodiversity conservation loses out in the policy arena (EEA 2004) Why? Lack of action might act as a further barrier to communication – i.e. whats the point? The perception that non-action is a cheaper alternative Conflict with other sectors and particularly strong lobby groups Emphasis is being placed on hard economic value of biodiversity – FP7…
Conclusions A clear risk from climate change for biodiversity Wide ranging and varied impacts detected and predicted Uncertainty is associated with these impacts Communicating the biodiversity science message within the context of climate change may be easier than normal Barriers still exist – hope and the concept of uncertainty Even with communication, action may not follow