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Climate change major threat to biodiversity, study says



New research has suggested that climate change effects on the environment would be so complex and varied that different regions would be threatened in different ways. Scientists have said that the level of complexity of this phenomenon is unprecedented in natural sciences.

The team of researchers used 15 climate change models to assess how species would react in various regions of the planet to the consequences of climatic variations, such as changes in temperature and precipitation.

They found out that predicting the effects on biodiversity would be extremely complex and challenging, as different regions face different threats.

Lead author Miguel Araújo said, “Polar regions have gained substantial attention because they are experiencing a very high temperature increase. Polar climates will shrink in area, providing reduced habitat for arctic and subarctic species, but climate change is more than melting ice.

“Warming in the tropics will create entirely novel climatic conditions, currently not experienced by species anywhere else on Earth. Whether species will be able to adapt to these novel climates is an open question. There is a risk of neglecting such vital information because the temperature increase in the polar regions is easier to grasp in comparison”.

The study said that there is “no single cure” to apply to all the areas involved, meaning that conservationists would have to take a more holistic approach region by region, for instance by improving habitat quality.

Scientists are far from being able to accurately predict the impacts of global environmental changes on biodiversity and ecosystems worldwide”, Araújo said.

The level of complexity we have to deal with when trying to predict the future effects of climate changes on species and ecosystems, is unprecedented in natural sciences, and this is why we have to work with simplifications that uncover the major trends of change that are happening in the natural world.”

Photo:  World Wide Gifts via flickr

Further reading:

Climate change increasing flood risk in the UK

Climate change linked to penguin chicks deaths in Argentina

Biodiversity in UK overseas territories face ‘immediate and significant threats’

Climate change will bring ‘staggering’ deep-sea ecosystem changes

Stable population helps species adapt to climate change


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