Enabling ecological change in the context of climate change is essential for preserving biodiversity and ecosystem services


As the need to tackle climate change becomes more and more urgent, the simultaneous need for proactive management of the rapidly changing Earth’s biosphere also increases, according to a study published today in the journal Science.

“We can actually do a lot to help systems cope with impending climate change,” says Jonathan Moore, professor of biology and author at Simon Fraser University, who, along with University of Washington professor Daniel Schindler, reviewed and evaluated. the potential benefits of the future – looking at it approaches. . “From restoring connectivity to reducing local stressors to conserving future habitats, all of these proactive approaches can help the ecosystems we rely on to adapt to climate change. “

With this in mind, for species and ecosystems to adapt and be resilient, it is essential to move beyond conservation-centric approaches and include those that enable ecological change, Schindler notes. Local efforts to preserve biodiversity and regenerate habitat complexity will also help maintain a diversity of future options for species and ecosystems in the unpredictable future. “

While the movement of species to new habitats has been critical to the biosphere’s adaptive response to a changing world, climate change is also transforming these ecosystems, resulting in the loss of some species and the addition of others.

The authors note that conservation should not only focus on the “losers of climate change,” but also on proactively managing emerging opportunities and pressures. In the Arctic, warming oceans and shrinking sea ice can create increased fish production, but threaten some species such as polar bears that depend on ice to hunt seals. Ice loss in the Arctic Ocean also increases pressures from industrial activities such as shipping and exploration for oil and gas that pose environmental risks. These pressures need to be managed as part of a forward-looking approach to ensure management of the Arctic ecosystem in the future.

Earth’s biodiversity has a history of change, with genes, species, populations and ecosystems all evolving smoothly with a changing world. “Earth’s systems have an incredible ability to adapt and resist change,” says Moore. “This is what has allowed certain species to persist for millions of years. But our actions seriously compromise this ability to adapt. “

The authors warn that even with the most aggressive emission reduction strategies, warming will “persist for decades” before potentially recovering, and strategies that enable adaptation and resilience will be essential for keeping ecosystems functioning and preserving biodiversity.

“Natural resource management and conservation efforts will need to incorporate dynamic aspects of the biosphere to help keep ecosystems functioning and protect biodiversity in the context of ongoing climate change,” said Moore.

Schindler says it is important and urgent for humanity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and “the reality is that the world is warming and systems are changing. We often expect ecosystems to always look the same or some species to always be in the same places. The biosphere has never been static and we need to adopt management approaches that maintain a dynamic and fluid biosphere. Therefore, conservation and management must be forward-looking, forward-looking and proactive, acting for the future. “

Source of the story:

Materials provided by Simon Fraser University. Original written by Melissa Shaw. Note: The content can be changed by style and length.


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