Original Paper

Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 18, Issue 8, pp 2243-2253

Climate change, conservation and management: an assessment of the peer-reviewed scientific journal literature

  • Adam FeltonAffiliated withFenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University Email author 
  • , Joern FischerAffiliated withFenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University
  • , David B. LindenmayerAffiliated withFenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University
  • , Rebecca Montague-DrakeAffiliated withFenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University
  • , Arianne R. LoweAffiliated withFenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University
  • , Debbie SaundersAffiliated withFenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University
  • , Annika M. FeltonAffiliated withFenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University
  • , Will SteffenAffiliated withFenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University
  • , Nicola T. MunroAffiliated withFenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University
    • , Kara YoungentobAffiliated withFenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University
    • , Jake GillenAffiliated withFenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University
    • , Phil GibbonsAffiliated withFenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University
    • , Judsen E. BruzgulAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, Gilbert Hall, Stanford University
    • , Ioan FazeyAffiliated withInstitute of Rural Sciences, University of Wales
    • , Suzi J. BondAffiliated withFenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University
    • , Carole P. ElliottAffiliated withFenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University
    • , Ben C. T. MacdonaldAffiliated withFenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University
    • , Luciana L. PorfirioAffiliated withFenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University
    • , Martin WestgateAffiliated withFenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University
    • , Martin WorthyAffiliated withFenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University

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Abstract

Recent reviews of the conservation literature indicate that significant biases exist in the published literature regarding the regions, ecosystems and species that have been examined by researchers. Despite the global threat of climatic change, similar biases may be occurring within the sub-discipline of climate-change ecology. Here we hope to foster critical thought and discussion by considering the directions taken by conservation researchers when addressing climate change. To form a quantitative basis for our perspective, we assessed 248 papers from the climate change literature that considered the conservation management of biodiversity and ecosystems. We found that roughly half of the studies considered climate change in isolation from other threatening processes. We also found that the majority of surveyed scientific publications were conducted in the temperate forests of Europe and North America. Regions such as Latin America that are rich in biodiversity but may have low adaptive capacity to climate change were not well represented. We caution that such biases in research effort may be distracting our attention away from vulnerable regions, ecosystems and species. Specifically we suggest that the under-representation of research from regions low in adaptive capacity and rich in biodiversity requires international collaboration by those experienced in climate-change research, with researchers from less wealthy nations who are familiar with local issues, ecosystems and species. Furthermore, we caution that the propensity of ecologists to work in essentially unmodified ecosystems may fundamentally hamper our ability to make useful recommendations in a world that is experiencing significant global change.

Keywords

Global warming Biodiversity Climate change Conservation priorities