The Devil is in the synergy

Interactions between climate change and habitat loss

Bang, bang, bang… Climate change, habitat loss, invasive species, disease, pollution, and overexploitation are all having growing impacts on many species and ecosystems. Typically each impact is studied and managed in isolation but it is becoming increasingly clear that a single-stressor perspective is inadequate when biodiversity is threatened by multiple, co-occurring stressors. In a world first, EDG researchers have measured the relationship between current climate, climate-change and habitat loss on plants and animals on a global scale.

A team from UQ and CSIRO reviewed over 1300 studies of habitat loss and fragmentation around the world over the past two decades (see figure 1), and mapped the impacts on species against changing temperature and rainfall patterns. Our results, published recently in Global Change Biology, indicate that species in areas with high temperatures and where average rainfall has decreased over time will suffer greater impacts from habitat loss and fragmentation. With the exception of arthropods, all taxonomic groups (birds, plants, arthropods, mammals, amphibians and reptiles), showed a consistent interaction between current temperature and habitat loss. This is the first study to conduct a global terrestrial analysis of existing data to quantify and test for interacting effects between current climate, climatic change and habitat loss on biological populations…




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