Global climate change impacts on Pacific Islands terrestrial biodiversity: a review

Taylor, S., and Kumar, L. (2016) Global climate change impacts on Pacific Islands terrestrial biodiversity: a review. Tropical Conservation Science, 9 (1). pp. 203-223.

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Abstract

The islands of the Pacific region hold three of the 35 global biodiversity hotspots with large numbers of endemic species. Global climate change will exacerbate the challenges faced by the biodiversity of this region. In this review, we identify trends in characteristics for 305 terrestrial species threatened by climate change and severe weather according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). We then review the literature on observed and potential impacts of climate change on terrestrial biodiversity, focusing on the species’ characteristics that were identified. High-elevation ecosystems such as cloud montane forests are projected to disappear entirely by the year 2100, with corresponding global losses of their endemic biodiversity. Sea level rise threatens restricted range species on small low-lying atolls. Shifts in distribution may be possible for generalist species, but range shifts will be difficult for species with small distributions, specialized habitat requirements, slow dispersal rates, and species at high elevations. Accurate assessments of climate change impacts on biodiversity of the region are difficult because of confusion about nomenclature, the many species unknown to science, the lack of baseline data on species’ ecology and distributions, and lack of fine resolution elevation data for very small islands. Furthermore, synergistic interactions of climate change with other threats like habitat loss and invasive species have not been comprehensively assessed. Addressing these knowledge gaps will be difficult for Pacific island nations due to limited financial resources and expertise.

Item ID: 61178
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1940-0829
Keywords: Biodiversity Conservation; Climate Change; Sea Level Rise; South Pacific Islands; Endemic Species; Extinction Risk
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Copyright Information: © S. Taylor and L. Kumar. This is an open access paper. We use the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us/. The license permits any user to download, print out, extract, archive, and distribute the article, so long as appropriate credit is given to the authors and source of the work. The license ensures that the published article will be as widely available as possible and that your articlecan be included in any scientific archive. Open Access authors retain the copyrights of their papers. Open access is a property of individual works, not necessarily journals or publishers.
Funders: University of New England (UNE)
Projects and Grants: UNE postdoctoral fellowship award
Date Deposited: 17 Dec 2019 23:32
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050101 Ecological Impacts of Climate Change @ 50%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960309 Effects of Climate Change and Variability on the South Pacific (excl. Australia and New Zealand) (excl. Social Impacts) @ 100%
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