Impacts of climate change on biodiversity

Updated: Apr 10, 2021

Written by Syed Hameed Anwar Sahib V | Header Photo credit: Financial Express

Biological diversity refers to the variation between living organisms and ecological complexes. It involves the correlation among genetics, species and populations covering the landscape. It is observed as significant in maintaining ecosystem processes and services which get reduced with the occurrences of loss. Biological diversity losses during the past century have been found unmatched with environmental stressors such as habitat degradation, landscape fragmentation and pollutants having a bad effect.

Climate change becomes an added stress on species and communities which are predicted to increase over time. Average temperatures in the United States result in a 2°F rise over the past semi-century. According to the U.S. Global Change Research Program Reports, Alaska has warmed at twice the rate (3.4°F) over the same period, bringing about sea ice decline, glacial retreat and permafrost thawing. Heat waves, extreme drought and dropping water supplies are becoming difficulties in the Southwest Plains. Sea level rise, intense water heat and ocean acidification are issues in coastal zones.

There may be variations in the geographic range of several species, affecting migration, recruitment and mortality. Phenological variations (e.g., timing of resource availability, advances in flowering or nesting dates) may alter predator-prey interrelation and herbivore-vegetation dynamics. The pace of climate change will be expected to exceed the dispersal rate of various species. Re-colonization may be restricted to regions such as the range core. Climate change may exacerbate the characteristics of species and communities at risk such as dispersal ability restrictions, low genetic diversity and delayed maturation. Climate change has been identified to alter the geographic range of species through elevation gradients. These alterations have affected migration approaches, where success will rely on the relation between the rate of climate change and basic habitat demands. The elevation range alterations of butterfly species reported in the Sierra Nevada Mountains may extend. Primeval forests and high-elevation forests seem remarkably vulnerable.

Temperature elevations may impact forest growth owing to declining soil moisture that will further increase the recurrence of insect attacks. Modifications in water temperatures may reduce oxygen levels in streams and lakes accordingly, leading to declines in aquatic species diversity. Water temperature elevations in the Caribbean and Pacific Islands may remain to alarm coral reefs, shellfish and other species. Communities belong to the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Coast preferring extreme concentrations of centrally-listed species and migrant shorebirds will be specifically at risk.

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