Considering the impact of climate change on human communities significantly alters the outcome of species and site-based vulnerability assessments

Segan, Daniel B.; Hole, David G.; Donatti, Camila I.; Zganjar, Chris; Martin, Shaun; Butchart, Stuart H. M.; Watson, James E. M.
Publisher N/A
SourceWeb of Science
Volume / Issue21 / 9
Pages1101 - 1111
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Publication Date15-Sep
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AbstractAim Human activities are largely responsible for the processes that threaten biodiversity, yet potential changes in human behaviour as a response to climate change are ignored in most species and site-based vulnerability assessments (VAs). Here we assess how incorporation of the potential impact of climate change on humans alters our view of vulnerability when using well-established site and species VA methodologies. Location Southern Africa. Methods Our baseline was two published studies that used accepted VA methodologies aimed at examining the direct impacts of climate changes on species and sites. The first identified potential shifts in the distributions of 164 restricted-range avian species, the second forecasted species turnover in 331 Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs). We used a published spatially explicit assessment of potential climate change impacts on people to evaluate which species and sites overlap with human populations most likely to be impacted. By doing this, we were able to assess how the integration of potential climate impacts on human populations changes our perception of which species and sites are most vulnerable to climate change. Results We found no correlation between species and sites most likely to be impacted directly by climate change and those where the potential response of human populations could drive major indirect impacts. The relative vulnerability of individual species and sites shifted when potential impacts of climate change on human communities were considered, with more than one-fifth of species and one-tenth of sites moving from ïlowÍ to ïhighÍ risk. Main conclusions Standard VA methodologies that fail to consider how people are likely to respond to climate change will result in systematically biased assessments. This may lead to the implementation of inappropriate management actions, and a failure to address those species or sites that may be uniquely, or additionally, imperilled by the impacts of human responses to climate change.
Created: 12/14/2017 10:29 AM (ET)
Modified: 12/14/2017 10:29 AM (ET)
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