Review

Beyond Predictions: Biodiversity Conservation in a Changing Climate

Science  01 Apr 2011:
Vol. 332, Issue 6025, pp. 53-58
DOI: 10.1126/science.1200303

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Abstract

Climate change is predicted to become a major threat to biodiversity in the 21st century, but accurate predictions and effective solutions have proved difficult to formulate. Alarming predictions have come from a rather narrow methodological base, but a new, integrated science of climate-change biodiversity assessment is emerging, based on multiple sources and approaches. Drawing on evidence from paleoecological observations, recent phenological and microevolutionary responses, experiments, and computational models, we review the insights that different approaches bring to anticipating and managing the biodiversity consequences of climate change, including the extent of species’ natural resilience. We introduce a framework that uses information from different sources to identify vulnerability and to support the design of conservation responses. Although much of the information reviewed is on species, our framework and conclusions are also applicable to ecosystems, habitats, ecological communities, and genetic diversity, whether terrestrial, marine, or fresh water.

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