Climate Change Impacts on Biodiversity

Biodiversity is defined as “the variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems.”

However talking about the impacts of Climate Change on biodiversity we can take into consideration the main factors affected: Temperature increase, Drought susceptibility, Precipitation fluctuation and Winds increase

1. Temperature:

Temperature change impacts growth, reproduction, and distribution of lake and stream biodiversity in addition to marine life disruptions. It’s increase impacts

  • Quality of surface water: decrease dissolved oxygen, and increase of algal bloom, bacterial content and fungal levels.
  • Nutrients: Rapid warming –> higher organic inputs (due to accelerated loss of nutrients) affect marine and lake productivity.
  • 2degC: Loss of some ecosystems including areas of high biodiversity
  • Invasive Species: threat to biodiversity and native fauna and flora. Alien species are species that when they occur outside of their natural range, have high dispersal potential.
  • Plankton: Under warmer seasons, plankton will appear faster and more often.
  • Animals: Roughly, 10% of species will face an increasingly high risk of extinction for every 1°C rise in global mean surface temperature (up to an increase of about 5°C).
  • Vegetation: mountain vegetation could suffer more because of increased evapotranspiration.

2. Droughts

Dry spells indicate time periods of no precipitation and no rain what-so-ever, leading to:

  • Land degradation and desertification.
  • Changes in breeding cycles of certain species that depend on water for their breeding cycle.
  • Fires: Increase susceptibility

3. Precipitation

Some areas would show increased precipitation and some would have significant decrease in precipitation that would lead to:

  • Flow of rivers: Decreased flow.
  • Changes in growth and development of species
  • Water turbidity: Increases in cases of intense precipitation and suspended sediments loads in summer.
  • Coral Reefs: reduce visibility to near zero, impacting plant and animal species’ functioning
  • Wetlands: Elimination of wetland species and reduction in income of people who are dependent on wetlands

4. Extreme Winds:

  • Water turbidity: Increase due to dust sedimentation
  • Nutrient load: Increase due to increase in fertilization of watersheds
  • Destruction of selected terrestrial habitats
  • Easier spreading of fires
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