Ecosystems on Land

Climate change interacts with ecosystem processes in a variety of ways, including direct and indirect influences on biodiversity, range and seasonality shifts in both plants and animals, and changes in productivity and element cycling processes, among others (NRC, 2008b). Research is needed to understand how rapidly species and ecosystems can or cannot adjust in response to climate-related changes and to understand the implications of such adjustments for ecosystem services. In addition, improved analyses of the interactions of climate-related variables—especially temperature, moisture, and CO2—with each other and in combination with other natural and human-caused changes (e.g., land use change, water diversions, and landscape-scale management choices) are needed, as such interactions are more relevant than any individual change acting alone. Climate change-related changes in fire, pest, and other disturbance regimes have also not been well assessed, especially at regional scales.

Research is needed to identify the ecosystems, ecosystem services, species, and people reliant on them that are most vulnerable. See Chapter 9 for additional details.

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