Whether you focus on mammals, birds, reptiles or amphibians – land vertebrates are in rapid decline everywhere around us, illustrating a general decline of Life on Earth – and a prelude to the Holocene-Anthropocene Mass Extinction, that is being underestimated in speed and severity.
The reason of this underestimation: demography – the decline of species populations. This is not always counted in when assessing the global ecological crisis, but if you do, you get to see that the actual trend is much worse than most people think…
If you live inside a heap of compost in someone’s backyard, your life may already feel quite miserable. But if you’re really tiny, at least you’re probably thinking your chances of surviving climate chance are –comparatively– okay.
Well, our dear little springtail –we hate to bring it to you– but science may have bad news. Sometimes it’s just not fair.
Predictive models that can forecast biodiversity decline under anthropogenic climate change used to be too simplistic, as these ignored crucial biological mechanisms such as demography, dispersal, evolution, and species interactions (for instance species competition and ecosystem dependence).
Fortunately these climate-biodiversity models are improving. But in order to also improve the quality of their biodiversity predictions these improved models now require more – and better data.
Yes, we found yet another publication that is critical of one-dimensional biodiversity loss projections of climate change – and again it is a component of interspecies interaction that may be underestimated. We’ve previously looked at species competition and at evolutionary responses, and today we add species’ interdependence – the ecosystem perspective:
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.
“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.