, Volume 19, Issue 6, pp 1599-1609
Date: 25 Feb 2010

Preliminary global assessment of terrestrial biodiversity consequences of sea-level rise mediated by climate change

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Considerable attention has focused on the climatic effects of global climate change on biodiversity, but few analyses and no broad assessments have evaluated effects of sea-level rise on biodiversity. Taking advantage of new maps of marine intrusion under scenarios of 1 and 6 m sea-level rise, we calculated areal losses for all terrestrial ecoregions globally, with areal losses for particular ecoregions ranging from nil to complete. Marine intrusion is a global phenomenon, but its effects are most prominent in Southeast Asia and nearby islands, eastern North America, northeastern South America, and western Alaska. Making assumptions regarding faunal responses to reduced distributional areas of species endemic to ecoregions, we estimated likely numbers of extinctions caused by sea-level rise, and found that marine-intrusion-caused extinctions of narrow endemics are likely to be most prominent in northeastern South America, although anticipated extinctions in smaller numbers are scattered worldwide. This assessment serves as a complement to recent estimates of losses owing to changing climatic conditions, considering a dimension of biodiversity consequences of climate change that has not previously been taken into account.