Box 45 Crossing biomes impacts of climate change on migratory birds

Migratory species can be affected by climate change in their breeding, wintering and/or critical stopover habitats. Models project changes in the future ranges of many species (Peterson et al., 2002; Price and Glick, 2002; Crick, 2004), some suggesting that the ranges of migrants may shift to a greater extent than non-migrants (Price and Root, 2001). In some cases this may lead to a lengthening and in others to a shortening of migration routes. Moreover, changes in wind patterns, especially in relation to seasonal migration timing, could help or hinder migration (Butler et al., 1997). Other expected impacts include continuing changes in phenology, behaviour, population sizes and possibly genetics (reviewed in Crick, 2004; Robinson et al., 2005).

Many migratory species must cross geographical barriers (e.g., the Sahara Desert, oceans) in moving between their wintering and breeding areas. Many species must stop in the Sahel to refuel en route from their breeding to their wintering areas. Degradation of vegetation quality in the Sahel (Box 4.2) could potentially lead to population declines in these species in areas quite remote from the Sahel (Robinson et al., 2005).

More than 80% of the species living within the Arctic Circle winter farther south (Robinson et al., 2005). However, climate-induced habitat change may be greatest in the Arctic (Zockler and Lysenko, 2000; Symon et al., 2005). For example, the red knot could potentially lose 15%-37% of its tundra breeding habitat by 2100 (HadCM2a1, UKMO). Additionally, at least some populations of this species could also lose critical migratory stopover habitat (Delaware Bay, USA) to sea-level rise (Galbraith et al., 2002).

The breeding areas of many Arctic breeding shorebirds and waterfowl are projected to decline by up to 45% and 50%, respectively (Folkestad et al., 2005) for global temperature increases of 2°C above pre-industrial. A temperature increase of 2.9°C above pre-industrial would cause larger declines of up to 76% for waterfowl and up to 56% for shorebirds. In North America's Prairie Pothole region, models have projected an increase in drought with a 3°C regional temperature increase and varying changes in precipitation, leading to large losses of wetlands and to declines in the populations of waterfowl breeding there (Johnson et al., 2005). Many of these species also winter in coastal areas vulnerable to sea-level rise (Inkley et al., 2004). One review of 300 migrant bird species found that 84% face some threat from climate change, almost half because of changes in water regime (lowered watertables and drought), and this was equal to the summed threats due to all other anthropogenic causes (Robinson et al., 2005).

especially in Africa, South America and in South Asia (Hassan et al., 2005). This reduction in native habitat will result in biodiversity loss (e.g., Duraiappah et al., 2005; Section 4.4.11). Northern-latitude countries and high-altitude regions may become increasingly important for biodiversity and species conservation as the ranges of species distributions move poleward and upward in response to climate change (Berry et al., 2006). Northern-latitude countries and high-altitude regions are also sensitive to the effects of climate change on land use, especially agriculture, which is of particular relevance if those regions are to support adaptation strategies to mitigate the negative effects of future climate and land-use change. Biomes at the highest latitudes that have not already been converted to agriculture are likely to remain relatively unchanged in the future (Duraiappah et al., 2005).

Aquatic systems

Higher CO2 concentrations lower the nutritional quality of the terrestrial litter (Lindroth et al., 2001; Tuchman et al., 2002, 2003a, 2003b) which in turn will affect the food web relationships of benthic communities in rivers. Greater amounts of DOC (dissolved organic carbon) released in peatlands at higher CO2 levels are exported to streams and finally reach coastal waters (Freeman et al., 2004).

4.4.11 Global synthesis including impacts on biodiversity

Considerable progress has been made since the TAR in key fields that allow projection of future climate change impacts on species and ecosystems. Two of these key fields, namely climate envelope modelling (also called niche-based, or bioclimatic modelling) and dynamic global vegetation modelling have provided numerous recent results. The synthesis of these results provides a picture of potential impacts and risks that is far from perfect, in some instances apparently contradictory, but overall highlights a wide array of key vulnerabilities (Figures 4.2; 4.4; 4.5, Table 4.1).

Climate envelope modelling has burgeoned recently due to increased availability of species distribution data, together with finer-scale climate data and new statistical methods that have allowed this correlative method to be widely applied (e.g., Guisan and Thuiller, 2005; McClean et al., 2005; Thuiller et al., 2005b). Despite several limitations (Section 4.3 and references cited therein) these models offer the advantage of assessing climate change impacts on biodiversity quantitatively (e.g., Thomas et al., 2004a). Climate envelope models do not simulate dynamic population or migration processes, and results are typically constrained to the regional level, so that the implications for biodiversity at the global level are difficult to infer (Malcolm et al., 2002a).

In modelling ecosystem function and plant functional type response, understanding has deepened since the TAR, though consequential uncertainties remain. The ecophysiological processes affected by climate change and the mechanisms by which climate change may impact biomes, ecosystem components such as soils, fire behaviour and vegetation structure (i.e., biomass distribution and leaf area index) are now explicitly modelled and have been bolstered by experimental results (e.g., Woodward and Lomas, 2004b). One emerging key message is that climate change impacts on the fundamental regulating services may previously have been underestimated (Sections 4.4.1,4.4.10, Figures 4.2; 4.3; 4.4). Nevertheless, the globally applicable DGVMs are limited inasmuch as the few plant functional types used within the models aggregate numerous species into single entities (Sitch et al., 2003). These are assumed to be entities with very broad environmental tolerances, which are immutable and immune to extinction. Therefore, underlying changes in species richness are not accounted for, and the simultaneous free dispersal of PFTs is assumed (e.g., Neilson et al., 2005; Midgley et al., 2007). The strength of DGVMs is especially in their global application, realistic dynamics and simulation of ecosystem processes including essential elements of the global C-cycle (e.g., Malcolm et al., 2002b). Thus, it is reasonable to equate changes in DGVM-simulated vegetation (e.g., Figure 4.3) to changes in community and population structures in the real world.

What overall picture emerges from the results reviewed here? It appears that moderate levels of atmospheric CO2 rise and climate change relative to current conditions may be beneficial in some regions (Nemani et al., 2003), depending on latitude, on the CO2 responsiveness of plant functional types, and on the natural adaptive capacity of indigenous biota (mainly through range shifts that are now being widely observed - see Chapter 1). But as change continues, greater impacts are projected, while

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