Is climate change the most important cause of biodiversity loss?

What is the relative impact of climate change on extinction risk compared to other threats? This study tries to answer this by using GBIF-mediated occurrences to model the distributions of 129 tree species endemic to the upper montane tropical Andes, and project these into future climate scenarios.

Data resources used via GBIF : 45,000 species occurrences (estimate)

What is the relative impact of climate change on extinction risk compared to other threats? This study tries to answer this by using GBIF-mediated occurrences to model the distributions of 129 tree species endemic to the upper montane tropical Andes, and project these into future climate scenarios. Their results indicate that by the year 2080, reductions in the population size of between 36 and 46 species will qualify them as threatened. Compared against other criteria considered in IUCN Red List assessments, climate change increases the risk of extinction by 15 per cent—a finding that contradicts previous suggestions that climate change is the most important cause of biodiversity loss. This conclusion highlights the need to consider other threats when developing conservation strategies.

Citations

Tejedor Garavito N, Newton AC, Golicher D and Oldfield S (2015) The Relative Impact of Climate Change on the Extinction Risk of Tree Species in the Montane Tropical Andes. PLOS ONE. Public Library of Science (PLoS), e0131388. Available at doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0131388.

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