Climate-induced co-extinctions in seven European pollinator networks

Study shows that extinctions due to climate change maybe double due to effects of species interactions

Data resources used via GBIF : Occurrences of 59 species
Tripleurospermum inodorum
Scentless mayweed (Tripleurospermum inodorum) observed in Karlštejn, Czechia by daczison. Photo via iNaturalist (CC BY-NC 4.0)

Species distribution models are commonly used for predicting the effects of climate change including potential extinctions. Such models treat species independently and neglect interactions between species.

Based on a rich trait dataset of seven European pollinator networks, this study explores potential climate-induced extinctions while considering mutual dependencies and thus co-extinctions. Adding GBIF-mediated occurrences, authors progressively projected models of 244 plant species into future climates, assigning a co-extinction probability each time an interaction would be lost.

The results show substantial variability across networks with dramatic increases in co-extinction rates in the Mediterranean networks—compared to the other networks. In fact, the 2080 projection shows a near-doubling of climate-induced extinctions when potential co-extinctions are considered.

Not surprisingly, some trait profiles are less likely to be driven to climatic extinction than others, however, the same profile may indeed have a significantly larger risk of disappearing through subsequent co-extinctions.

Original article

Bascompte J, García MB, Ortega R, Rezende EL and Pironon S (2019) Mutualistic interactions reshuffle the effects of climate change on plants across the tree of life. Science Advances. American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) 5(5): eaav2539. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.aav2539