Abstracts on Global Climate Change

Nov 2004

The impact of global climate change on tropical forest biodiversity in Amazonia

Miles, L Grainger, A Phillips, O


Aim To model long-term trends in plant species distributions in response to predicted changes in global climate. Location Amazonia. Methods The impacts of expected global climate change on the potential and realized distributions of a representative sample of 69 individual Angiosperm species in Amazonia were simulated from 1990 to 2095. The climate trend followed the HADCM2GSa1 scenario, which assumes an annual 1% increase of atmospheric CO2 content with effects mitigated by sulphate forcing. Potential distributions of species in one-degree grid cells were modelled using a suitability index and rectilinear envelope based on bioclimate variables. Realized distributions were additionally limited by spatial contiguity with, and proximity to, known record sites. A size-structured population model was simulated for each cell in the realized distributions to allow for lags in response to climate change, but dispersal was not included. Results In the resulting simulations, 43% of all species became non-viable by 2095 because their potential distributions had changed drastically, but there was little change in the realized distributions of most species, owing to delays in population responses. Widely distributed species with high tolerance to environmental variation exhibited the least response to climate change, and species with narrow ranges and short generation times the greatest. Climate changed most in north-east Amazonia while the best remaining conditions for lowland moist forest species were in western Amazonia. Main conclusions To maintain the greatest resilience of Amazonian biodiversity to climate change as modelled by HADCM2GSa1, highest priority should be given to strengthening and extending protected areas in western Amazonia that encompass lowland and montane forests.

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