Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: April 2011

6 - Impacts of climate change on the biotic fabric of the planet

Summary

‘The world that is bequeathed to us is, in our hands and in our time, being unmade … the future complexity of life – our potential gift to the future – is being eradicated’

Biodiversity represents the fabric of life itself. It is comprised not only of numbers of species, but also includes the variety of all life forms and their genes as well as the communities and ecosystems of which they are a part. The consequences of climate change for biodiversity are potentially profound.

Many acknowledge the importance of biodiversity in its own right, without any consideration of utilitarian value. However, biodiversity also provides the underpinning of the ecosystem services on which human societies are ultimately dependent. Without well-functioning ecosystems we humans, as a biological species, could not exist.

Even before anthropogenic climate change became a significant issue, biodiversity has been in decline in many parts of the world. The reasons are almost entirely linked to human numbers, economic activity and resource use; the proximate causes include landscape modification and conversion, direct predation (i.e. hunting and fishing), introduction of alien species, extraction of water resources, and application of excess nutrients. Climate change now represents an additional stressor, usually interacting with the already existing stressors in complex ways. The acceleration of biodiversity decline with climate change, and the consequent further degradation and loss of ecosystem services, provides important information to inform the discussion of what constitutes dangerous climate change.

References
Andelman, S., Midgley, G., Polasky, S.et al. (2009). Ensuring biodiversity security in the face of climate change. IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science, 6, 312005.
Attorre, F., Vitale, M., Tomasetto, F.et al. (2009). Effect of climate change on tree species distribution to support the elaboration of adaptive management strategies in natural protected areas. IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science, 6, 312012.
Barbier, E. and Cox, M. (2002). Economic and demographic factors affecting mangrove loss in the coastal provinces of Thailand, 1979–1996. Ambio, 31, 351–57.
Beaugrand, G., Reid, P. C., Ibañez, F., Lindley, J. A. and Edwards, M. (2002). Reorganisation of North Atlantic marine copepod biodiversity and climate. Science, 296, 1692–94.
International, Birdlife (2008). State of the World's Birds: Indicators for our Changing World. Cambridge, UK: Birdlife International.
Bruno, J. F. and Selig, E. R. (2007). Regional decline of coral cover in the Indo-Pacific: Timing, extent, and subregional comparisons. PLoS ONE, 2, e711.
Bryant, D., Burke, L., McManus, J. and Spalding, M. (1998). Reefs at Risk: A Map-based Indicator of Threats to the World's Coral Reefs. Washington, D.C.: World Resources Institute.
Carpenter, S. R., Mooney, H. A., Agard, J.et al. (2009). Science for managing ecosystem services: Beyond the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA), 106, 1305–12.
Cesario, M., Cesario, R. R. and Andrade-Morraye, M. (2009). The impacts of climate change on ecosystem services: The case of disrupted disease regulation in South-Western Amazonia. IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science, 6, 302007.
ChapinIII, F. S., Randerson, J. T., McGuire, A. D., Foley, J. A. and Field, C. B. (2008). Changing feedbacks in the climate–biosphere system. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 6, 313–20.
Cleland, E. E., Chuine, I., Menzel, A., Mooney, H. A. and Schwartz, M. D. (2007). Shifting plant phenology in response to global change. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 22, 357–65.
De'ath, G., Lough, J. M. and Fabricius, K. E. (2009). Declining coral calcification on the Great Barrier Reef. Science, 323, 116–19.
Done, T., Whetton, P., Jones, R.et al. (2003). Global Climate Change and Coral Bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef. Final report to the State of Queensland Greenhouse Taskforce through the Department of Natural Resources and Mining. Brisbane: Queensland Government Department of Natural Resources.
Donner, S. D., Skirving, W. J., Little, C. M., Oppenheimer, M. and Hoegh-Guldberg, O. (2005). Global assessment of coral bleaching and required rates of adaptation under climate change. Global Change Biology, 11, 2251–65.
,EPICA community members (2004). Eight glacial cycles from an Antarctic ice core. Nature, 429, 623–28.
Folke, C., Hahn, T., Olsson, P. and Norberg, J. (2005). Adaptive governance of social–ecological systems. Annual Review of Environment and Resources, 30, 441–73.
Hansen, J. L. S. and Bendtsen, J. (2009). Effects of climate change on hypoxia in the North Sea–Baltic Sea transition zone. IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science, 6, 302016.
Hansen, J. W., Nedergaard, M. and Skov, F. (2009). Ecological consequences of climate change and how to measure them. IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science, 6, 302015.
Hobbs, R. J. and Mooney, H. A. (1995). Effects of episodic rain events on mediterranean-climate ecosystems. In Time Scales of Biological Responses to Water Constraints, eds. Roy, J., Aronson, J. and Castri, F. di. Amsterdam: SPB Academic Publishing, pp. 71–85.
Hodgkin, T., Snook, L., Bellon, M. and Frison, E. (2009). Redefining in situ and ex situ conservation of useful plant diversity in an era of climate change. IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science, 6, 312003.
Hoegh-Guldberg, O. (1999). Climate change, coral bleaching and the future of the world's coral reefs. Marine and Freshwater Research, 50, 839–66.
Hoegh-Guldberg, O., Hoegh-Guldberg, H., Stout, D. K., Cesar, H. and Timmerman, A. (2000). Pacific in Peril: Biological, Economic and Social Impacts of Climate Change on Pacific Coral Reefs. Suva, Fiji: Greenpeace.
Hoegh-Guldberg, O., Hoegh-Guldberg, H., Veron, J. E.et al. (2009). The Coral Triangle and Climate Change: Ecosystems, People and Societies at Risk. Brisbane: WWF Australia, http://www.panda.org/coraltriangle.
Hoegh-Guldberg, O., Hughes, L., McIntyre, S.et al. (2008). Assisted colonization and rapid climate change. Science, 321, 345–46.
Hoegh-Guldberg, O., Mumby, P. J., Hooten, A. J.et al. (2007). Coral reefs under rapid climate change and ocean acidification. Science, 318, 1737–42.
Hole, D., Turner, W., Brooks, T.et al. (2009). Towards an adaptive management framework for climate change across species, sites and land/seascapes. IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science, 6, 312006.
,Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (2001). Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, eds. Houghton, J. T., Ding, Y., Griggs, D. J., Noguer, M., Linden, P. J., Dai, X., Maskell, K. and Johnson, C. A.. Cambridge, UK and New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
,Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (2007a). Summary for policymakers. In Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, eds. Parry, M. L., Canziani, O.F., Palutikof, J. P., Linden, P. J. and Hanson, C.E.. Cambridge, UK and New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, pp. 7–22.
,Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (2007b). Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, eds. Solomon, S., Qin, D., Manning, M., Chen, Z., Marquis, M., Averyt, K. B., Tignor, M. and Miller, H. L.. Cambridge, UK and New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
Jackson, J. B. C. (2008). Ecological extinction and evolution in the brave new ocean. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA), 105, 11458–65.
Jarvis, A., King, N., Gaiji, S.et al. (2009). GBIF: Infrastructure, standards and access to data and tools to forecast changes in agricultural production. In Climate Change: Global Risks, Challenges and Decisions. International Scientific Congress, Copenhagen, Denmark, 10–12 March. London: Institute of Physics IOP, p. 1.
Kathiresan, K. and Rajendran, N. (2006). Coastal mangrove forests mitigated tsunami. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 65, 601–06.
Kleypas, J. A. and Langdon, C. (2006). Coral reefs and changing seawater chemistry. In Coral Reefs and Climate Change: Science and Management. AGU Monograph Series, Coastal and Estuarine Studies, eds. Phinney, J. T., Hoegh-Guldberg, O., Kleypas, J., Skirving, W. and Strong, A.. Washington, D.C.: American Geophysical Union.
Lenoir, J., Gégout, J. C., Marquet, P. A., Ruffray, P. and Brisse, H. (2008). A significant upward shift in plant species optimum elevation during the 20th century. Science, 320, 1768–71.
Lindenmayer, D. (2009). Ecosystem services: An example of monetary valuation. In Australia's Biodiversity and Climate Change, eds. Steffen, W., Burbidge, A., Hughes, L., Kitching, R., Lindenmayer, D., Musgrave, W., Smith, M. Stafford and Werner, P.. Melbourne: CSIRO Publishing.
Lobell, D. B., Burke, M. B., Tebaldi, C.et al. (2008). Prioritizing climate change adaptation needs for food security in 2030. Science, 319, 607–10.
Lorius, C., Jouzel, J., Raynaud, D., Hansen, J. and Treut, H. (1990). The ice-core record: Climate sensitivity and future greenhouse warming. Nature, 347, 139–45.
Mann, M. E., Bradley, R. S. and Hughes, M. K. (1999). Northern hemisphere temperatures during the past millennium: inferences, uncertainties, and limitations. Geophysical Research Letters, 26, 759–62.
Manning, A. D., Fischer, J., Felton, A.et al. (2009). Landscape fluidity – a new perspective for understanding and adapting to global change. Journal of Biogeography, 36, 193–99.
McKenzie, N. L., Burbidge, A. A., Baynes, A.et al. (2007). Analysis of factors implicated in the recent decline of Australia's mammal fauna. Journal of Biogeography, 34, 597–611.
Mieszkowska, N., Hawkins, S. and Burrows, M. (2009). Climate-driven changes in coastal marine biodiversity: trends, forecasts & management implications. IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science, 6, 312021.
,Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005). Ecosystems and Human Well-being. General Synthesis. Washington, D.C.: Island Press.
Miller, C., Indriani, G., Suroso, D., Jovanovic, T. and Alexander, K. (2009). Reintegrating native biodiversity in Indonesia's agricultural landscapes: Reducing the vulnerability of the rural poor to climate change; IARU International Scientific Congress on Climate Change, Copenhagen, 10–12 March 2009, Session 31 (Spoken paper).
Mølgaard, P. (2009). Herbs are hurt, shrubs will thrive in a warmer arctic climate results of ITEX – The International Tundra Experiment. IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science, 6, 312022.
Møller, P. R. (2009). Is a recent increase of the Greenland fish fauna caused by climate change?IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science, 6, 312023.
Mooney, H. A. (2007). The costs of losing and restoring ecosystem services. In Managing and Designing Landscapes for Conservation, eds. Lindenmayer, D. B. and Hobbs, R. J.. Oxford: Blackwell Press, pp. 365–75.
Moritz, C., Patton, J. L., Conroy, C. J.et al. (2008). Impact of a century of climate change on small-mammal communities in Yosemite National Park, USA. Science, 322, 261–64.
Moy, A. D., Howard, W. D., Bray, S. G. and Trull, T. W. (2009). Reduced calcification in modern Southern Ocean planktonic foraminifera. Nature Geoscience, 2, 276–80.
Parmesan, C. (2006). Ecological and evolutionary responses to recent climate change. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics, 37, 637–69.
Parmesan, C. and Yohe, G. (2003). A globally coherent fingerprint of climate change impacts across natural systems. Nature, 421, 37–42.
Pedersen, J. K., Arndal, M. F. and Schmidt, I. K. (2009). Above and belowground phenology in a heathland during future climate change. IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science, 6, 312011.
Perry, A. L., Low, P. J., Ellis, J. R. and Reynolds, J. D. (2005). Climate change and distribution shifts in marine fishes. Science, 308, 1912–15.
Potvin, C., ChapinIII, F. S., Gonzalez, A.et al. (2007). Plant biodiversity and responses to elevated carbon dioxide. In Terrestrial Ecosystems in a Changing World, eds. Canadell, J., Pataki, D. and Pitelka, L.., Heidelberg, , Germany: Springer-Verlag, pp. 125–34.
Pounds, J. A., Bustamante, M. R., Coloma, L. A.et al. (2006). Widespread amphibian extinction from epidemic disease driven by global warming. Nature, 439, 161–67.
Reaka-Kudla, M. L. (1997). Global biodiversity of coral reefs: A comparison with rainforests. In Biodiversity II: Understanding and Protecting Our Biological Resources, eds. Reaka-Kudla, M. L., Wilson, D. E. and Wilson, E. O.. Washington, D.C.: Joseph Henry Press.
Réale, D., McAdam, A. G., Boutin, S. and Berteaux, D. (2003). Genetic and plastic responses of a northern mammal to climate change. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 270, 591–96.
Reusch, T. B. H. and Wood, T. E. (2007). Molecular ecology of global change. Molecular Ecology, 16, 3973–92.
Scheffer, M., Straile, D., Nes, E. H. and Hosper, H. (2001). Climatic warming causes regime shifts in lake food webs. Limnology and Oceanography, 46, 1780–83.
Scholze, M., Knorr, W., Arnell, N. W. and Prentice, I. C. (2006). A climate-change risk analysis for world ecosystems. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA), 103, 13116–20.
Siegenthaler, U., Stocker, T. F., Monnin, E.et al. (2005). Stable carbon cycle–climate relationship during the late Pleistocene. Science, 310, 1313–17.
Sitch, S., Smith, B., Prentice, I. C., et al. (2003). Evaluation of ecosystem dynamics, plant geography and terrestrial carbon cycling in the LPJ dynamic global vegetation model. Global Change Biology, 9, 161–85.
Staehr, P., Wernberg, T., Thomsen, M.et al. (2009). Global warming is eroding the resilience of kelp beds. IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science, 6, 312008.
Stampfli, A. and Zeiter, M. (2009). Prediction and mitigation of undesirable change in semi-natural grassland due to extreme droughts and hay management. IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science, 6, 312027.
Steffen, W., Burbidge, A., Hughes, L.et al. (2009). Australia's Biodiversity and Climate Change. Melbourne: CSIRO Publishing.
Stone, R. (2007). A world without corals?Science, 316, 678–81.
Tanzil, J. T. I., Brown, B. E., Tudhope, A. W. and Dunne, R. P. (2009). Decline in skeletal growth of the coralPorites lutea from the Andaman Sea, South Thailand between 1984 and 2005. Coral Reefs, 28, 519–28.
Tape, K., Sturm, M. and Racine, C. (2006). The evidence for shrub expansion in Northern Alaska and the Pan-Arctic. Global Change Biology, 12, 686–702.
,TEEB (2008). The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity. European Communities, http://www.teebweb.org.
Thomas, C. D., Cameron, A., Green, R. E.et al. (2004). Extinction risk from climate change. Nature, 427, 145–48.
Buskirk, J., Mulvihill, R. S. and Leberman, R. C. (2009). Variable shifts in spring and autumn migration phenology in North American songbirds associated with climate change. Global Change Biology, 15, 760–71.
Visser, M. E. and Both, C. (2005). Shifts in phenology due to global climate change: the need for a yardstick. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 272, 2561–69.
Walther, G.-R., Post, E., Convey, P.et al. (2002). Ecological responses to recent climate change. Nature, 416, 389–95.
Warren, R., Price, J., Fischlin, A., Midgley, G. and Nava Santos, S. (2009). Increasing impacts of climate change upon ecosystems with increasing global mean temperature rise. IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science, 6, 302037.
Wilkinson, C. (2008). Status of Coral Reefs of the World: 2008. Townsville, Australia: Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network and Reef and Rainforest Research Centre.
Wilkinson, C. R. (1999). Global and local threats to coral reef functioning and existence: Review and predictions. Marine Freshwater Research, 50, 867–78.
Wilkinson, C. R. and Buddemeier, R. W. (1994). Global Climate Change and Coral Reefs: Implications for People and Reefs. Report of the UNEP-IOC-ASPEI-IUCN Global Task Team on the Implications of Climate Change on Coral Reefs. Gland: IUCN.
Wilkinson, C., Lindén, O., Cesar, H.et al. (1999). Ecological and socioeconomic impacts of 1998 coral mortality in the Indian Ocean: An ENSO impact and a warning of future change?Ambio, 28, 188–96.
Willis, K. J. and Bhagwat, S. A. (2009). Biodiversity and climate change. Science, 326, 806–07.
,World Resources Institute (WRI) (2006). The value of coastal ecosystems. Earth Trends, November 2006 monthly update.