Assessing the Impact of Climate Change on Biodiversity
- 1) Coordinate the Biodiversity sector of the 2013 National Climate Assessment.
- 2) Identify the key data and knowledge gaps related to how climate change will affect biodiversity.
- 3) Aid in the analysis of writing of the 2013 NCA Synthesis Report.
Building on past assessments of how climate change and other stressors are affecting ecosystems in the United States and around the world, we approach the subject from several perspectives. First, we review the observed and projected impacts on biodiversity. Next, we examine how climate change is affecting ecosystem structural elements as related to the fluxes of energy and matter. People experience climate change impacts on biodiversity and ecosystems as changes in ecosystem services. We review newly emerging research to determine how human activities and a changing climate are likely to alter the delivery of these ecosystem services. This technical input also examines two cross-cutting topics. First, we recognize that climate change is happening against the backdrop of a wide range of other environmental and anthropogenic stressors which have already caused dramatic ecosystem degradation. This broader range of stressors interacts with climate change, and complicates our abilities to predict and manage the impacts on biodiversity, ecosystems, and the services. The second cross-cutting topic is the rapidly advancing field of climate adaptation, where there has been significant progress in developing the conceptual framework, planning approaches, and strategies for safeguarding biodiversity and other ecological resources. At the same time, ecosystem-based adaptation is becoming more prominent as a way to utilize ecosystem services to help human systems adapt to climate change. This work will inform the 2013 National Climate Assessment and a special issue in Frontiers in the Ecology and Environment is planned.