General Article Biodiversity and climate change: ecosystems

Topic Selected: Climate Change
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Climate change will increasingly drive biodiversity loss, affecting both individual species and their ecosystems. An ecosystem can be defined as a community of plant and animal species and the physical environment that they occupy, which includes the climate regime. When climate conditions change, unexpected results may follow. Each species will respond in an individual fashion, according to its climate tolerances and its ability to disperse into a new location, alter its phenology (e.g. breeding date) or adapt to shifting food sources. It is difficult to predict the overall result of changes in the abundance of herbivores and food plants, predators and prey.

Many studies have attempted to project the rate and extent of terrestrial ecosystem response to climate change, some using simple models assuming that entire ecosystems will shift to follow the changing climate, and others using 'plant functional type' models featuring the responses of different types of herbs, bushes and tr...

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