Special Issue "Biological Implications of Climate Change"

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A special issue of Biology (ISSN 2079-7737).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 August 2012)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Lesley Hughes

Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, North Ryde, NSW, 2109, Australia
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Global biological systems face unprecedented challenges from rapid human-induced climate change. Many species and communities are already degraded and stressed from other anthropogenic impacts, and climate change is expected to interact with, and in some cases, exacerbate these stresses. Further, the rapid rate of anticipated change will exceed the capacity of many species to either undergo genetic change, or to shift to more suitable habitat. Many species around the globe are already responding to the climatic changes experienced over the past few decades, with evidence of changes in life cycles, distributions, and populations. Cascading effects on species interactions, community structure and ecosystem function are also being documented at an accelerating rate. This special issue will focus on climate change as a current and future pervasive driver of change for the life support systems of the planet.

Prof. Lesley Hughes
Guest Editor

Keywords

  • phenology
  • distributions
  • extinction
  • interactions
  • adaptive capacity

Published Papers (15 papers)

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Research

Jump to: Review

Open AccessArticle The Vulnerability of Threatened Species: Adaptive Capability and Adaptation Opportunity
Biology 2013, 2(3), 872-893; doi:10.3390/biology2030872
Received: 2 May 2013 / Revised: 30 May 2013 / Accepted: 31 May 2013 / Published: 1 July 2013
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Abstract
Global targets to halt the loss of biodiversity have not been met, and there is now an additional Aichi target for preventing the extinction of known threatened species and improving their conservation status. Climate change increasingly needs to be factored in to these,
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Global targets to halt the loss of biodiversity have not been met, and there is now an additional Aichi target for preventing the extinction of known threatened species and improving their conservation status. Climate change increasingly needs to be factored in to these, and thus there is a need to identify the extent to which it could increase species vulnerability. This paper uses the exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity framework to assess the vulnerability of a selection of WWF global priority large mammals and marine species to climate change. However, it divides adaptive capacity into adaptive capability and adaptation opportunity, in order to identify whether adaptation is more constrained by the biology of the species or by its environmental setting. Lack of evidence makes it difficult to apply the framework consistently across the species, but it was found that, particularly for the terrestrial mammals, adaptation opportunities seems to be the greater constraint. This framework and analysis could be used by conservationists and those wishing to enhance the resilience of species to climate change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Implications of Climate Change)
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Open AccessArticle A Deeper Statistical Examination of Arrival Dates of Migratory Breeding Birds in Relation to Global Climate Change
Biology 2013, 2(2), 742-754; doi:10.3390/biology2020742
Received: 22 November 2012 / Revised: 9 April 2013 / Accepted: 10 April 2013 / Published: 26 April 2013
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (251 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Using an 18-year dataset of arrival dates of 65 species of Maine migratory breeding birds, I take a deeper view of the data to ask questions about the shapes of the distribution. For each year, most species show a consistent right-skewed pattern of
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Using an 18-year dataset of arrival dates of 65 species of Maine migratory breeding birds, I take a deeper view of the data to ask questions about the shapes of the distribution. For each year, most species show a consistent right-skewed pattern of distribution, suggesting that selection is stronger against individuals that arrive too early compared to those that arrive later. Distributions are consistently leptokurtic, indicating a narrow window of optimal arrival dates. Species that arrive earlier in the spring show higher skewness and kurtosis values. Nectarivorous species showed more pronounced skewness. Wintering area did not explain patterns of skewness or kurtosis. Deviations from average temperatures and the North Atlantic Oscillation index explained little variation in skewness and kurtosis. When arrival date distributions are broken down into different medians (e.g., 5% median and 75% median), stronger correlations emerge for portions of the distribution that are adjacent, suggesting species fine-tune the progress of their migration. Interspecific correlations for birds arriving around the same time are stronger for earliest migrants (the 25% median) compared to the true median and the 75% median. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Implications of Climate Change)
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Open AccessArticle Nonindigenous Plant Advantage in Native and Exotic Australian Grasses under Experimental Drought, Warming, and Atmospheric CO2 Enrichment
Biology 2013, 2(2), 481-513; doi:10.3390/biology2020481
Received: 8 February 2013 / Revised: 11 February 2013 / Accepted: 25 February 2013 / Published: 27 March 2013
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (911 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
A general prediction of ecological theory is that climate change will favor invasive nonindigenous plant species (NIPS) over native species. However, the relative fitness advantage enjoyed by NIPS is often affected by resource limitation and potentially by extreme climatic events such as drought.
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A general prediction of ecological theory is that climate change will favor invasive nonindigenous plant species (NIPS) over native species. However, the relative fitness advantage enjoyed by NIPS is often affected by resource limitation and potentially by extreme climatic events such as drought. Genetic constraints may also limit the ability of NIPS to adapt to changing climatic conditions. In this study, we investigated evidence for potential NIPS advantage under climate change in two sympatric perennial stipoid grasses from southeast Australia, the NIPS Nassella neesiana and the native Austrostipa bigeniculata. We compared the growth and reproduction of both species under current and year 2050 drought, temperature and CO2 regimes in a multifactor outdoor climate simulation experiment, hypothesizing that NIPS advantage would be higher under more favorable growing conditions. We also compared the quantitative variation and heritability of growth traits in populations of both species collected along a 200 km climatic transect. In contrast to our hypothesis we found that the NIPS N. neesiana was less responsive than A. bigeniculata to winter warming but maintained higher reproductive output during spring drought. However, overall tussock expansion was far more rapid in N. neesiana, and so it maintained an overall fitness advantage over A. bigeniculata in all climate regimes. N. neesiana also exhibited similar or lower quantitative variation and growth trait heritability than A. bigeniculata within populations but greater variability among populations, probably reflecting a complex past introduction history. We found some evidence that additional spring warmth increases the impact of drought on reproduction but not that elevated atmospheric CO2 ameliorates drought severity. Overall, we conclude that NIPS advantage under climate change may be limited by a lack of responsiveness to key climatic drivers, reduced genetic variability in range-edge populations, and complex drought-CO2 interactions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Implications of Climate Change)
Open AccessArticle Linking Eco-Energetics and Eco-Hydrology to Select Sites for the Assisted Colonization of Australia’s Rarest Reptile
Biology 2013, 2(1), 1-25; doi:10.3390/biology2010001
Received: 29 September 2012 / Revised: 22 November 2012 / Accepted: 14 December 2012 / Published: 27 December 2012
Cited by 13 | PDF Full-text (940 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Assisted colonization—the deliberate translocation of species from unsuitable to suitable regions—is a controversial management tool that aims to prevent the extinction of populations that are unable to migrate in response to climate change or to survive in situ. The identification of suitable
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Assisted colonization—the deliberate translocation of species from unsuitable to suitable regions—is a controversial management tool that aims to prevent the extinction of populations that are unable to migrate in response to climate change or to survive in situ. The identification of suitable translocation sites is therefore a pressing issue. Correlative species distribution models, which are based on occurrence data, are of limited use for site selection for species with historically restricted distributions. In contrast, mechanistic species distribution models hold considerable promise in selecting translocation sites. Here we integrate ecoenergetic and hydrological models to assess the longer-term suitability of the current habitat of one of the world’s rarest chelonians, the Critically Endangered Western Swamp Tortoise (Psuedemydura umbrina). Our coupled model allows us to understand the interaction between thermal and hydric constraints on the foraging window of tortoises, based on hydrological projections of its current habitat. The process can then be repeated across a range of future climates to identify regions that would fall within the tortoise’s thermodynamic niche. The predictions indicate that climate change will result in reduced hydroperiods for the tortoises. However, under some climate change scenarios, habitat suitability may remain stable or even improve due to increases in the heat budget. We discuss how our predictions can be integrated with energy budget models that can capture the consequences of these biophysical constraints on growth, reproduction and body condition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Implications of Climate Change)
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Open AccessArticle Climate Predictions Accelerate Decline for Threatened Macrozamia Cycads from Queensland, Australia
Biology 2012, 1(3), 880-894; doi:10.3390/biology1030880
Received: 3 October 2012 / Revised: 26 November 2012 / Accepted: 7 December 2012 / Published: 14 December 2012
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (671 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Changes in the potential habitat of five allopatric species of threatened Macrozamia cycads under scenarios of increased ambient temperature were examined. A lack of seed dispersal, poor recruitment, low seedling survival, obligate pollinator mutualisms and continued habitat loss have led to extant populations
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Changes in the potential habitat of five allopatric species of threatened Macrozamia cycads under scenarios of increased ambient temperature were examined. A lack of seed dispersal, poor recruitment, low seedling survival, obligate pollinator mutualisms and continued habitat loss have led to extant populations being largely restricted to refugia. Models predict that the area of suitable habitat will further contract and move upslope, resulting in a reduced incidence within protected areas with increasing annual mean temperature. Areas of potential habitat for all five species are also predicted to become increasingly isolated from one another, further reducing the exchange between metapopulations and subpopulations, exacerbating existing threatening processes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Implications of Climate Change)
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Open AccessArticle Climate Change Impacts on the Tree of Life: Changes in Phylogenetic Diversity Illustrated for Acropora Corals
Biology 2012, 1(3), 906-932; doi:10.3390/biology1030906
Received: 19 September 2012 / Revised: 10 December 2012 / Accepted: 10 December 2012 / Published: 14 December 2012
Cited by 13 | PDF Full-text (519 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The possible loss of whole branches from the tree of life is a dramatic, but under-studied, biological implication of climate change. The tree of life represents an evolutionary heritage providing both present and future benefits to humanity, often in unanticipated ways. Losses in
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The possible loss of whole branches from the tree of life is a dramatic, but under-studied, biological implication of climate change. The tree of life represents an evolutionary heritage providing both present and future benefits to humanity, often in unanticipated ways. Losses in this evolutionary (evo) life-support system represent losses in “evosystem” services, and are quantified using the phylogenetic diversity (PD) measure. High species-level biodiversity losses may or may not correspond to high PD losses. If climate change impacts are clumped on the phylogeny, then loss of deeper phylogenetic branches can mean disproportionately large PD loss for a given degree of species loss. Over time, successive species extinctions within a clade each may imply only a moderate loss of PD, until the last species within that clade goes extinct, and PD drops precipitously. Emerging methods of “phylogenetic risk analysis” address such phylogenetic tipping points by adjusting conservation priorities to better reflect risk of such worst-case losses. We have further developed and explored this approach for one of the most threatened taxonomic groups, corals. Based on a phylogenetic tree for the corals genus Acropora, we identify cases where worst-case PD losses may be avoided by designing risk-averse conservation priorities. We also propose spatial heterogeneity measures changes to assess possible changes in the geographic distribution of corals PD. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Implications of Climate Change)
Open AccessArticle Using Natural Gradients to Infer a Potential Response to Climate Change: An Example on the Reproductive Performance of Dactylis Glomerata L.
Biology 2012, 1(3), 857-868; doi:10.3390/biology1030857
Received: 19 November 2012 / Revised: 5 December 2012 / Accepted: 6 December 2012 / Published: 13 December 2012
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (223 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
An understanding of the climate conditions governing spatial variation in the reproductive performance of plants can provide important information about the factors characterizing plant community structure, especially in the context of climate change. This study focuses on the effect of climate on the
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An understanding of the climate conditions governing spatial variation in the reproductive performance of plants can provide important information about the factors characterizing plant community structure, especially in the context of climate change. This study focuses on the effect of climate on the sexual reproductive output of Dactylis glomerata L., a perennial grass species widely distributed throughout temperate regions. An indirect space-for-time substitution procedure was used. Sixty mountain populations of the same target species were surveyed along an elevation gradient, and then, a relevant climate model was used to infer a potential response to climate change over time. Within each population, information on the number of stems, seed number and seed mass were collected. Resource investment in reproduction (RIR) was quantified as seed number × seed mass. A clear variation was found in the reproductive performance of D. glomerata along the elevational gradient: RIR improved with increasing temperature. The best model included only one term: the maximum temperature of the warmest month. This study demonstrates that mountain ecosystems offer particularly good opportunities to study climate effects over relatively short distances and suggests that warming will enhance D. glomerata’s reproductive output throughout its elevational range. Furthermore, it can be hypothesized that a potential migration of D. glomerata toward higher altitudes may occur in response to accelerated climate change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Implications of Climate Change)
Open AccessArticle Will Climate Change, Genetic and Demographic Variation or Rat Predation Pose the Greatest Risk for Persistence of an Altitudinally Distributed Island Endemic?
Biology 2012, 1(3), 736-765; doi:10.3390/biology1030736
Received: 3 September 2012 / Revised: 29 October 2012 / Accepted: 16 November 2012 / Published: 23 November 2012
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (802 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Species endemic to mountains on oceanic islands are subject to a number of existing threats (in particular, invasive species) along with the impacts of a rapidly changing climate. The Lord Howe Island endemic palm Hedyscepe canterburyana is restricted to two mountains above 300
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Species endemic to mountains on oceanic islands are subject to a number of existing threats (in particular, invasive species) along with the impacts of a rapidly changing climate. The Lord Howe Island endemic palm Hedyscepe canterburyana is restricted to two mountains above 300 m altitude. Predation by the introduced Black Rat (Rattus rattus) is known to significantly reduce seedling recruitment. We examined the variation in Hedyscepe in terms of genetic variation, morphology, reproductive output and demographic structure, across an altitudinal gradient. We used demographic data to model population persistence under climate change predictions of upward range contraction incorporating long-term climatic records for Lord Howe Island. We also accounted for alternative levels of rat predation into the model to reflect management options for control. We found that Lord Howe Island is getting warmer and drier and quantified the degree of temperature change with altitude (0.9 °C per 100 m). For H. canterburyana, differences in development rates, population structure, reproductive output and population growth rate were identified between altitudes. In contrast, genetic variation was high and did not vary with altitude. There is no evidence of an upward range contraction as was predicted and recruitment was greatest at lower altitudes. Our models predicted slow population decline in the species and that the highest altitude populations are under greatest threat of extinction. Removal of rat predation would significantly enhance future persistence of this species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Implications of Climate Change)
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Open AccessArticle An Eco-Evolutionary Model for Demographic and Phenological Responses in Migratory Birds
Biology 2012, 1(3), 639-657; doi:10.3390/biology1030639
Received: 3 September 2012 / Revised: 26 October 2012 / Accepted: 6 November 2012 / Published: 14 November 2012
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (330 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Many migratory birds have changed their timing of arrival at breeding grounds in response to recent climate change. Understanding the adaptive value and the demographic consequences of these shifts are key challenges. To address these questions we extend previous models of phenological adaptation
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Many migratory birds have changed their timing of arrival at breeding grounds in response to recent climate change. Understanding the adaptive value and the demographic consequences of these shifts are key challenges. To address these questions we extend previous models of phenological adaptation to climate change under territory competition to include feedback from population dynamics, winter survival and habitat productivity. We study effects of improved pre-breeding survival and of earlier food abundance peak. We show that phenological responses depend strongly on equilibrium population density via effects on territory competition. When density is high, improved pre-breeding survival affects selection pressures more than shifts of the resource peak. Under certain conditions, an advanced food peak can even select for later arrival due to competitive release. Improved pre-breeding survival has positive effects on population density that in many cases is stronger than negative effects of an advanced food peak. The fraction of young in the population decreases in all scenarios of change, but food peak shifts only affect population structure marginally unless population density is low. This work thus provides several missing links between phenological adaptation and demographic responses, and augments the toolbox for interpreting ongoing phenological shifts in migratory birds. We illustrate the utility of our model by explaining different patterns in demographic trends and phenological shifts in populations of Pied flycatchers (Ficedula hypoleuca) across Western Europe. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Implications of Climate Change)
Open AccessArticle Vulnerability to Climate Change of Mangroves: Assessment from Cameroon, Central Africa
Biology 2012, 1(3), 617-638; doi:10.3390/biology1030617
Received: 24 August 2012 / Revised: 28 September 2012 / Accepted: 31 October 2012 / Published: 6 November 2012
Cited by 9 | PDF Full-text (761 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Intertidal mangrove ecosystems are sensitive to climate change impacts, particularly to associated relative sea level rise. Human stressors and low tidal range add to vulnerability, both characteristics of the Doula Estuary, Cameroon. To investigate vulnerability, spatial techniques were combined with ground surveys to
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Intertidal mangrove ecosystems are sensitive to climate change impacts, particularly to associated relative sea level rise. Human stressors and low tidal range add to vulnerability, both characteristics of the Doula Estuary, Cameroon. To investigate vulnerability, spatial techniques were combined with ground surveys to map distributions of mangrove zones, and compare with historical spatial records to quantify change over the last few decades. Low technology techniques were used to establish the tidal range and relative elevation of the mapped mangrove area. Stratigraphic coring and palaeobiological reconstruction were used to show the longer term biological history of mangroves and net sedimentation rate, and oral history surveys of local communities were used to provide evidence of recent change and identify possible causes. Results showed that the seaward edge of mangroves had over two thirds of the shoreline experienced dieback at up to 3 m per year over the last three decades, and an offshore mangrove island had suffered 89% loss. Results also showed low net sedimentation rates under seaward edge mangroves, and restricted intertidal elevation habitats of all mangroves, and Avicennia and Laguncularia in particular. To reduce vulnerability, adaptation planning can be improved by reducing the non-climate stressors on the mangrove area, particularly those resulting from human impacts. Other priorities for adaptation planning in mangrove areas that are located in such low tidal range regions are to plan inland migration areas and strategic protected areas for mangroves, and to undertake management activities that enhance accretion within the mangroves. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Implications of Climate Change)
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Review

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Open AccessReview Predicting the Response of Molluscs to the Impact of Ocean Acidification
Biology 2013, 2(2), 651-692; doi:10.3390/biology2020651
Received: 11 February 2013 / Revised: 11 February 2013 / Accepted: 25 February 2013 / Published: 2 April 2013
Cited by 54 | PDF Full-text (422 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Elevations in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) are anticipated to acidify oceans because of fundamental changes in ocean chemistry created by CO2 absorption from the atmosphere. Over the next century, these elevated concentrations of atmospheric CO2 are expected to result
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Elevations in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) are anticipated to acidify oceans because of fundamental changes in ocean chemistry created by CO2 absorption from the atmosphere. Over the next century, these elevated concentrations of atmospheric CO2 are expected to result in a reduction of the surface ocean waters from 8.1 to 7.7 units as well as a reduction in carbonate ion (CO32−) concentration. The potential impact that this change in ocean chemistry will have on marine and estuarine organisms and ecosystems is a growing concern for scientists worldwide. While species-specific responses to ocean acidification are widespread across a number of marine taxa, molluscs are one animal phylum with many species which are particularly vulnerable across a number of life-history stages. Molluscs make up the second largest animal phylum on earth with 30,000 species and are a major producer of CaCO3. Molluscs also provide essential ecosystem services including habitat structure and food for benthic organisms (i.e., mussel and oyster beds), purification of water through filtration and are economically valuable. Even sub lethal impacts on molluscs due to climate changed oceans will have serious consequences for global protein sources and marine ecosystems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Implications of Climate Change)
Open AccessReview Climate Change and Intertidal Wetlands
Biology 2013, 2(1), 445-480; doi:10.3390/biology2010445
Received: 4 January 2013 / Revised: 25 February 2013 / Accepted: 25 February 2013 / Published: 19 March 2013
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (323 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Intertidal wetlands are recognised for the provision of a range of valued ecosystem services. The two major categories of intertidal wetlands discussed in this contribution are saltmarshes and mangrove forests. Intertidal wetlands are under threat from a range of anthropogenic causes, some site-specific,
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Intertidal wetlands are recognised for the provision of a range of valued ecosystem services. The two major categories of intertidal wetlands discussed in this contribution are saltmarshes and mangrove forests. Intertidal wetlands are under threat from a range of anthropogenic causes, some site-specific, others acting globally. Globally acting factors include climate change and its driving cause—the increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. One direct consequence of climate change will be global sea level rise due to thermal expansion of the oceans, and, in the longer term, the melting of ice caps and glaciers. The relative sea level rise experienced at any one locality will be affected by a range of factors, as will the response of intertidal wetlands to the change in sea level. If relative sea level is rising and sedimentation within intertidal wetlands does not keep pace, then there will be loss of intertidal wetlands from the seaward edge, with survival of the ecosystems only possible if they can retreat inland. When retreat is not possible, the wetland area will decline in response to the “squeeze” experienced. Any changes to intertidal wetland vegetation, as a consequence of climate change, will have flow on effects to biota, while changes to biota will affect intertidal vegetation. Wetland biota may respond to climate change by shifting in distribution and abundance landward, evolving or becoming extinct. In addition, impacts from ocean acidification and warming are predicted to affect the fertilisation, larval development, growth and survival of intertidal wetland biota including macroinvertebrates, such as molluscs and crabs, and vertebrates such as fish and potentially birds. The capacity of organisms to move and adapt will depend on their life history characteristics, phenotypic plasticity, genetic variability, inheritability of adaptive characteristics, and the predicted rates of environmental change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Implications of Climate Change)
Open AccessReview Drought, Deluge and Declines: The Impact of Precipitation Extremes on Amphibians in a Changing Climate
Biology 2013, 2(1), 399-418; doi:10.3390/biology2010399
Received: 9 February 2013 / Revised: 28 February 2013 / Accepted: 1 March 2013 / Published: 11 March 2013
Cited by 16 | PDF Full-text (382 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The Class Amphibia is one of the most severely impacted taxa in an on-going global biodiversity crisis. Because amphibian reproduction is tightly associated with the presence of water, climatic changes that affect water availability pose a particularly menacing threat to both aquatic and
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The Class Amphibia is one of the most severely impacted taxa in an on-going global biodiversity crisis. Because amphibian reproduction is tightly associated with the presence of water, climatic changes that affect water availability pose a particularly menacing threat to both aquatic and terrestrial-breeding amphibians. We explore the impacts that one facet of climate change—that of extreme variation in precipitation—may have on amphibians. This variation is manifested principally as increases in the incidence and severity of both drought and major storm events. We stress the need to consider not only total precipitation amounts but also the pattern and timing of rainfall events. Such rainfall “pulses” are likely to become increasingly more influential on amphibians, especially in relation to seasonal reproduction. Changes in reproductive phenology can strongly influence the outcome of competitive and predatory interactions, thus potentially altering community dynamics in assemblages of co-existing species. We present a conceptual model to illustrate possible landscape and metapopulation consequences of alternative climate change scenarios for pond-breeding amphibians, using the Mole Salamander, Ambystoma talpoideum, as an example. Although amphibians have evolved a variety of life history strategies that enable them to cope with environmental uncertainty, it is unclear whether adaptations can keep pace with the escalating rate of climate change. Climate change, especially in combination with other stressors, is a daunting challenge for the persistence of amphibians and, thus, the conservation of global biodiversity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Implications of Climate Change)
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Open AccessReview Climate Change, Sea-Level Rise and Implications for Coastal and Estuarine Shoreline Management with Particular Reference to the Ecology of Intertidal Benthic Macrofauna in NW Europe
Biology 2012, 1(3), 597-616; doi:10.3390/biology1030597
Received: 3 September 2012 / Revised: 11 October 2012 / Accepted: 31 October 2012 / Published: 5 November 2012
Cited by 8 | PDF Full-text (244 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In many European estuaries, extensive areas of intertidal habitats consist of bare mudflats and sandflats that harbour a very high abundance and biomass of macrobenthic invertebrates. The high stocks of macrobenthos in turn provide important food sources for the higher trophic levels such
[...] Read more.
In many European estuaries, extensive areas of intertidal habitats consist of bare mudflats and sandflats that harbour a very high abundance and biomass of macrobenthic invertebrates. The high stocks of macrobenthos in turn provide important food sources for the higher trophic levels such as fish and shorebirds. Climate change and associated sea-level rise will have potential to cause changes in coastal and estuarine physical properties in a number of ways and thereby influence the ecology of estuarine dependent organisms. Although the mechanisms involved in biological responses resulting from such environmental changes are complex, the ecological effects are likely to be significant for the estuarine benthic macrofauna and hence the consumers they support. This paper reviews the utilisation patterns of estuarine intertidal habitats by shorebirds, fish and crustaceans, as well as factors affecting the distribution, abundance and biomass of estuarine macrobenthos that is known to be important food source for these estuarine predators. This study also provides simple conceptual models of the likely impacts of sea-level rise on the physical and biological elements of estuarine intertidal habitats, and implications of these results are discussed in the context of sustainable long term flood and coastal management in estuarine environments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Implications of Climate Change)
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Open AccessReview Investigating Climate Change and Reproduction: Experimental Tools from Evolutionary Biology
Biology 2012, 1(2), 411-438; doi:10.3390/biology1020411
Received: 23 July 2012 / Revised: 30 August 2012 / Accepted: 4 September 2012 / Published: 13 September 2012
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (251 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
It is now generally acknowledged that climate change has wide-ranging biological consequences, potentially leading to impacts on biodiversity. Environmental factors can have diverse and often strong effects on reproduction, with obvious ramifications for population fitness. Nevertheless, reproductive traits are often neglected in conservation
[...] Read more.
It is now generally acknowledged that climate change has wide-ranging biological consequences, potentially leading to impacts on biodiversity. Environmental factors can have diverse and often strong effects on reproduction, with obvious ramifications for population fitness. Nevertheless, reproductive traits are often neglected in conservation considerations. Focusing on animals, recent progress in sexual selection and sexual conflict research suggests that reproductive costs may pose an underestimated hurdle during rapid climate change, potentially lowering adaptive potential and increasing extinction risk of certain populations. Nevertheless, regime shifts may have both negative and positive effects on reproduction, so it is important to acquire detailed experimental data. We hence present an overview of the literature reporting short-term reproductive consequences of exposure to different environmental factors. From the enormous diversity of findings, we conclude that climate change research could benefit greatly from more coordinated efforts incorporating evolutionary approaches in order to obtain cross-comparable data on how individual and population reproductive fitness respond in the long term. Therefore, we propose ideas and methods concerning future efforts dealing with reproductive consequences of climate change, in particular by highlighting the advantages of multi-generational experimental evolution experiments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Implications of Climate Change)

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