Panel IXB: The Effects of Climate Change and Invasions on Biodiversity
What does a community composed of native and invasive species look like in terms of structure and network? For many ecosystems in today’s world, biotic invasion means inevitable change/disruption to community composition, biological networks and ecosystem services. Common conservation strategies to deal with invasive species focus on eradication and restoration of invaded habitat as a way to revitalize the native community, however, for many biological invasions, removal of the invasive species is not feasible. For these communities, comprised of natives and invasive, our understanding of the ecological processes structuring species assembly, coexistence, and interactions is limited. Without understanding how invasive species shape and reorganize native communities we can’t design informed conservation strategies. My project aims to quantify native community response to invasion, by focusing on a specific invasion of Lodgepole Pine (Pinus contorta) into an alpine community in northern Patagonia, Argentina. Specifically, I ask the question; Are invading pines impacting the native alpine community? To answer this question, I measured compositional turnover in root-associated fungi, bacterial and plant communities between plots containing adult pines, juvenile pines (sapling) and no pines (control). Using a combination of variance partitioning, phylogenetic analysis and spatial mapping, I quantify the community-wide impact of invasive pines in this ecosystem. The results from this study can be used to inform policy makers seeking to conserve at-risk ecosystems from treeinvasion and give scientists a better understanding of the processes that shape and change biotic communities in invaded ecosystems. In ecosystems like this one, where removal of the invader is not feasible, the only path forward in conservation is through a thorough understanding of the processes responsible for the organization and stability of the novel community and the preservation of native species through informed management of the invasive.
Climate change is likely to negatively affect the habitats of nonhuman primate species. Recent research has identified a near-linear relationship between cumulative CO2 emissions, and the resulting regional and seasonal temperature increase. We use this relationship to assess the potential impact that cumulative CO2 emissions could have on the range areas available to primate species. We used data from the IUCN on range areas for 426 species and subspecies of nonhuman primates, combined with spatial climate data from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) that represents temperature changes per unit CO2 emissions. We used geographic information systems (GIS) modelling to project, in various scenarios, the extent to which climate change will influence temperature within each primate species' environment. We estimated the portions of each species’ range area where annual average temperatures exceed the pre-industrial seasonal maximum temperatures (PSMT). The tested scenarios were for cumulative CO2 emissions from 0.6 – 2.0 teratonnes of carbon, which correspond roughly to 1-4 degrees Celsius of global temperature increase above pre-industrial temperatures. The regions that are predicted to be most affected tend to be species-rich areas between the latitudes of 20 degrees North and 10 degrees South. For the level of emissions corresponding to a 2°C global temperature increase scenario, 26.1% of all habitat ranges had
temperatures in excess of their PSMTs, and for 8% of species, the entire current habitat was above their PSMT. If future annual average temperatures of an area increase above the PSMT to which a primate species is accustomed, this suggests potential for considerable loss of or compromised habitat for nonhuman primates. Such loss of habitat would be a result of the
emergence of climate conditions that are outside the range of historical experience. Our results point to priority areas for conservation efforts, and the need for future research on strategies to increase the resilience of vulnerable local nonhuman primate populations.
Biodiversity is declining around the world. Extinction rates have risen far enough above historical norms that scientists have defined a new era of global mass extinction. These losses are reducing nature’s contributions to human health, wellbeing, and economy and increasing the chance that we are exceeding the safe planetary boundaries for maintaining human life on Earth. Protecting, managing and restoring biodiversity constitute some of the greatest challenges for science and humankind in the 21st Century. Which species will be the next go extinct? Where will species diversity increase or decrease? How will changes in biodiversity affect ecosystems and their ecological, social and economic benefits to humans? How do we create sustainable economic opportunities while tackling the challenges related to biodiversity changes? Biologists still do not know the answers to most of these questions. To anticipate biodiversity loss and plan for consequences that are in many cases unavoidable (at least in the short and medium term), we need models capable of predicting the future state of ecological communities. These models are critical to estimate change in associated ecosystem services, guide sustainable practices, enable smart policies, and inform biodiversity assessments, management actions and conservation interventions. In this presentation, I will discuss: (1) the main challenges involved in producing robust biodiversity models related to climate change; and (2) some possible solutions to these challenges.
This event is brought to you by the Loyola College for Diversity and Sustainability and the Loyola Sustainability Research Centre with the support of the Office of the Vice-President, Research and Graduate Studies; the Faculty of Arts and Science; the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Smart, Sustainable and Resilient Communities and Cities; the John Molson School of Business; and the Departments of Biology; Communication Studies; Economics; Geography, Planning and Environment; Management; and Political Science at Concordia University.