, Volume 8, Issue 10, pp 1383-1397

Effects of climate change on biodiversity: a review and identification of key research issues

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Abstract

Current knowledge of effects of climate change on biodiversity is briefly reviewed, and results are presented of a survey of biological research groups in the Netherlands, aimed at identifying key research issues in this field. In many areas of the world, biodiversity is being reduced by humankind through changes in land cover and use, pollution, invasions of exotic species and possibly climate change. Assessing the impact of climate change on biodiversity is difficult, because changes occur slowly and effects of climate change interact with other stress factors already imposed on the environment. Research issues identified by Dutch scientists can be grouped into: (i) spatial and temporal distributions of taxa; (ii) migration and dispersal potentials of taxa; (iii) genetic diversity and viability of (meta) populations of species; (iv) physiological tolerance of species; (v) disturbance of functional interactions between species; and (vi) ecosystem processes. Additional research should be done on direct effects of greenhouse gases, and on interactions between effects of climate change and habitat fragmentation. There are still many gaps in our knowledge of effects of climate change on biodiversity. An interdisciplinary research programme could possibly focus only on one or few of the identified research issues, and should generate input data for predictive models based on climate change scenarios.