New study helps conservationists assess climate change

An extensive new study co-authored by UBoC’s Jamie Carr will help scientists update conservation strategies, and understand how climate change is affecting species around the world, as we struggle to limit warming to 1.5 degrees C above pre-industrial levels.

Cat-Eyed Mangrove Snake – Boiga dendrophila. Photo by David Bickford. This Southeast Asian snake hunts in mangrove ecosystems, but rising sea levels as a result of climate change will result in habitat loss, threatening the species.

Successful climate change mitigation will require conservation of the world’s ecosystems and the species they comprise. Unfortunately, many of these are themselves vulnerable to the impacts of a changing climate, and knowledge of how, why, when and where climate change could put species at risk is essential to developing plans minimize these potential impacts.

For decades, the scientific community has been grappling with the complex topic of assessing the climate change vulnerability of species, and a range of different methods to achieve this have been developed, each with their own requirements in terms of data and other resources. The diversity of approaches available can often leave assessors confused about which is the most appropriate way to undertake their assessments, and may prevent them from completing assessments altogether. 

In a new publication, a group of world-leading academics, have synthesized the huge body of literature surrounding this topic in order to provide those wishing to assess the vulnerability of species with a key resource to help them navigate the complexities and ensure that their outputs are as robust and useful as possible.

 “This work is important as it brings together the very latest thinking in a complex yet important field of study” says Jamie. “The paper will allow conservationists wishing to assess how climate change will impact upon one or more species to do so in the most rigorous manner possible, and will hopefully lead to greater consistency and comparability between assessments. As the earth’s climate continues to change, robust assessments of the impacts that this causes will be increasingly important if we are to safeguard biodiversity and the services that it provides to humans around the world”.

There is more information here, in the University of Leeds press release and also here, in the Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) press release.