As species migrate in response to climate change and do so at different rates and dispersal directions, extra ecosystem disturbances might arise, leading to temporary local biodiversity increases – fuelling a net (global) downward trend.
Quickly migrating species can keep track of climate change by migrating along the optimum of their climate zone habitat. Paradoxically these species increase the pressure on slower dispersers, increasing their extinction risk. Overall, adding such complex interspecies interaction to models increases the biodiversity loss predictions as the result of climate change.
“Over last 30 years 50% of coral has disappeared”
“Based on current trends, within the next 30 years annual bleaching will kill most of the world’s coral”
Earlier this month a new climate impact documentary was released, called Chasing Coral. As the name suggests, it’s all about coral reefs – and was made by the same director as Chasing Ice (another highly recommended documentary film about the effects of climate change – on big glaciers).
We watched Chasing Coral yesterday evening and – as we are a science website with a special interest in the ecological effects of climate change, thought it might be good to publish a short fact check – to see if the statements that are made in the documentary are in line with scientific consensus.
Climate change is a direct disturbing factor to ecosystem health. It also leads to geographical biome shifts and therefore forced species migrations. Invasive species and food chain disturbances can lead to plagues, creating further ecosystem damage. All these factors work synergistically with other current and future ecology stressing trends, like deforestation and ocean acidification, which makes it difficult to model and project biodiversity decline – yet all the more valuable to take notice of scientific attempts to come up with actual figures.
Yes. That’s ONE TRILLION. ‘Possibly’ – as recent research using statistical scaling rules shows Earth’s total biodiversity, expressed in numbers of species, lies somewhere between 100 billion and (possibly more than) ten times as much. Welcome to the world of microbes.
Here’s just a quick supplement on yesterday’s article, showing Earth’s historical biodiversity graph correlates with different phases of plate tectonics.
Yesterday we tried to place the Holocene-Anthropocene Mass Extinction in the context of Earth’s past mass extinctions. Listing the Holocene Extinction as the ‘Sixth Mass Extinction’ proves problematic for various reasons. Today we offer additional context: although a mass extinction is defined as the loss of >75% of (larger) species – this definition does not take into account absolute numbers of biodiversity loss. To do so requires understanding of the net evolution of biodiversity.
Yes, you’ve guessed it: a new series – and one we think is (even) more important than the previous climate series on Bits of Science, like our short (ongoing) understanding sea level rise series, and the more elaborate series about climate-temperature inertia (the ‘real’ global temperature trend).
This time we want to dig deep into the science of climate-ecology interaction – to try to develop a sense, based on facts, figures and research, of the Holocene Mass Extinction, and the role anthropogenic climate change plays as one of the main drivers of this escalating loss of global biodiversity.