Special Issue "Climate System Uncertainty and Biodiversity Conservation"

A special issue of Earth (ISSN 2673-4834).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 August 2021).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Timothy G. F. Kittel
E-Mail Website1 Website2
Guest Editor
Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309-0450, USA
Interests: earth system dynamics; climate change in high mountain systems; teleconnections; climate analysis; atmosphere–biosphere interactions; global change biology; biotic responses to climate change and variability; conservation planning in the context of climate change; ecosystem geography
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Ms. Terri Schulz
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Colorado Field Office, The Nature Conservancy, 2424 Spruce Street, Boulder, CO 80302, USA
Interests: biodiversity conservation; conservation planning; addressing invasive species threats; climate change impacts to biodiversity; conservation strategies; rangeland ecology; land management
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Uncertainty characterizes the near- and long-term futures of the biosphere. At risk is biodiversity across all levels—that is, in the composition, structure, and function of species genetics and populations, through to communities, ecosystems, and landscapes. This uncertainty arises from (1) climatic uncertainty due to climate system complexity and unknown future human forcings, (2) uncertainty in biospheric responses to climate due to complexity in ecological interactions across temporal and spatial scales, and (3) synergisms with other stressors. This presents a challenge for understanding the effects of rapid climate change on biodiversity and incorporating this threat in conservation planning and natural resource management, whose goals are to maintain biodiversity and with it intact ecosystem services on which our society and economies depend.

This Special Issue aims to explore three aspects of this problem:

  • Uncertainty that arises from Earth system dynamics—in particular, how these dynamics link to variability and change in continental and marine ecosystems.
  • The nature of the vulnerability of species and ecosystems to climate disruption.
  • Approaches for the conservation of biodiversity and management of natural resources in light of this vulnerability and climatic uncertainty.

We welcome papers on observational, experimental, or modeling studies and review papers that relate to these areas, including submissions on the following topics:

Climate Dynamics and the Biosphere –

  • Multivariate and multi-temporal/spatial scale nature of regional climate change;
  • Synoptic weather patterns and species biology;
  • Ocean–atmosphere oscillations and ecosystems (marine or continental);
  • Nonlinear dynamics (climatic, ecological)—e.g., regime shifts and tipping points;

Species Vulnerability –

  • Species adaptive capacity;
  • Microevolution;
  • Demographic processes;
  • Population viability;
  • Trophic cascades;
  • Food web disruption;
  • Phenological asynchrony;
  • Species range shifts;
  • Habitat resilience;
  • Barriers to dispersal;
  • Threat synergisms;

Ecosystem and Landscape Vulnerability –

  • Landscape processes;
  • Disturbance regime changes;
  • Biogeochemical cycle disruption;
  • Ecosystem resilience;
  • Ecological history;
  • Ecosystem services – aquatic (marine or freshwater) and terrestrial;
  • Mountain systems – e.g., linked and decoupled elevation-dependent responses;

Conservation Strategies –

  • Conservation strategies in an uncertain future;
  • Conservation planning incorporating climate change as a threat;
  • Vital resources monitoring strategies;
  • Adaptive management strategies;
  • Conservation of the physical nature of landscapes (“Enduring landscapes”);
  • Science communication – scientific uncertainty, policy-making, and adaptation

The Special Issue "Climate System Uncertainty and Biodiversity Conservation" is jointly organized between "Climate" and "Earth" journals. The Climate special issue can be found at: https://www.mdpi.com/journal/climate/special_issues/bio. You may choose to publish your papers in either journal's special issue. Earth offers discounts or waivers for papers based on peer-review results.

Dr. Timothy G.F. Kittel
Ms. Terri Schulz
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Earth is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Anthropocene
  • Biodiversity
  • Climate change
  • Climate dynamics
  • Conservation biology
  • Conservation planning
  • Ecosystem services
  • Evolutionary biology
  • Land management
  • Species vulnerability

Published Papers (2 papers)

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Review

Review
Environmental and Social Risks to Biodiversity and Ecosystem Health—A Bottom-Up, Resource-Focused Assessment Framework
Earth 2021, 2(3), 440-456; https://doi.org/10.3390/earth2030026 - 12 Jul 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 655
Abstract
Risks from human intervention in the climate system are raising concerns with respect to individual species and ecosystem health and resiliency. A dominant approach uses global climate models to predict changes in climate in the coming decades and then to downscale this information [...] Read more.
Risks from human intervention in the climate system are raising concerns with respect to individual species and ecosystem health and resiliency. A dominant approach uses global climate models to predict changes in climate in the coming decades and then to downscale this information to assess impacts to plant communities, animal habitats, agricultural and urban ecosystems, and other parts of the Earth’s life system. To achieve robust assessments of the threats to these systems in this top-down, outcome vulnerability approach, however, requires skillful prediction, and representation of changes in regional and local climate processes, which has not yet been satisfactorily achieved. Moreover, threats to biodiversity and ecosystem function, such as from invasive species, are in general, not adequately included in the assessments. We discuss a complementary assessment framework that builds on a bottom-up vulnerability concept that requires the determination of the major human and natural forcings on the environment including extreme events, and the interactions between these forcings. After these forcings and interactions are identified, then the relative risks of each issue can be compared with other risks or forcings in order to adopt optimal mitigation/adaptation strategies. This framework is a more inclusive way of assessing risks, including climate variability and longer-term natural and anthropogenic-driven change, than the outcome vulnerability approach which is mainly based on multi-decadal global and regional climate model predictions. We therefore conclude that the top-down approach alone is outmoded as it is inadequate for robustly assessing risks to biodiversity and ecosystem function. In contrast the bottom-up, integrative approach is feasible and much more in line with the needs of the assessment and conservation community. A key message of our paper is to emphasize the need to consider coupled feedbacks since the Earth is a dynamically interactive system. This should be done not just in the model structure, but also in its application and subsequent analyses. We recognize that the community is moving toward that goal and we urge an accelerated pace. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate System Uncertainty and Biodiversity Conservation)
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Review
Managing a World Heritage Site in the Face of Climate Change: A Case Study of the Wet Tropics in Northern Queensland
Earth 2021, 2(2), 248-271; https://doi.org/10.3390/earth2020015 - 01 Jun 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 812
Abstract
World Heritage is the pinnacle of the recognition of the natural, aesthetic, and cultural value of a place on the planet. Since its inception in 1972, over 1100 sites have received World Heritage status. Many of these places are being challenged by the [...] Read more.
World Heritage is the pinnacle of the recognition of the natural, aesthetic, and cultural value of a place on the planet. Since its inception in 1972, over 1100 sites have received World Heritage status. Many of these places are being challenged by the effects of climate change. Urgent action is needed to build the resilience and adaptive capacity of World Heritage sites in the face of climate change threats to come. The Wet Tropics of Queensland World Heritage Area (WTWHA) is one of the most effectively regulated and managed protected Areas in the world. This includes the scientific evidence upon which that regulation and management is based. However, there is growing evidence that climate change impacts are a clear and present threat to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) upon which the listing is based. This challenges the very concept of OUV and points to the business-as-usual regulation and management not being sufficient to deal with the threat. It also calls for quantum changes in the approaches to protecting natural and cultural heritage and the OUV in World Heritage Areas. This WTWHA case study gives insights into the journey travelled and the pathways that need to be laid out to protect our most cherished internationally recognised natural and cultural landscapes. We demonstrate the importance of evidence in support of advocacy and management action to address the clear impacts of climate change on species, ecosystems, people, and societies living in the WTWHA. The strategic and climate adaptation plans provide the framework upon which these actions take place. Community engagement in the delivery of mitigation, adaptation, and resilience policy is key to the long-term future of the WTWHA. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate System Uncertainty and Biodiversity Conservation)
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