Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Crisis? What Crisis?

Global Warming and Extinctions of Endemic Species from Biodiversity Hotspots. 2006. J.R. Malcolm et al., Conservation Biology 20: 538
The Earth could see massive waves of species extinctions around the world if global warming continues unabated, according to a new study published in the scientific journal Conservation Biology.

Supertramp from HERE.

From the Conservation Biology press release:

The study expands on a much-debated 2004 paper published in the journal Nature that suggested a quarter of the world's species would be committed to extinction by 2050 as a result of global warming. The results reinforce the massive species extinction risks identified in the 2004 study.

Using vegetation models, the research is one of the first attempts to assess the potential effects of climate change on terrestrial biodiversity on a global scale rather than just looking at individual species. Scientists looked specifically at the effect that climate change would have on 25 of the 34 globally outstanding "biodiversity hotspots" – areas containing a large number of species unique to these regions alone, yet facing enormous threats.

"The hotspots studied in this paper are essentially refugee camps for many of our planet's most unique plant and animal species. If those areas are no longer habitable due to global warming then we will quite literally be destroying the last sanctuaries many of these species have left."

Image from HERE.

Areas particularly vulnerable to climate change include the tropical Andes, the Cape Floristic region of South Africa, Southwest Australia, and the Atlantic forests of Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina.