Biodiversity Areas under Threat: Overlap of Climate Change and Population Pressures on the World’s Biodiversity Priorities

UNCW Author/Contributor (non-UNCW co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Narcisa Pricope (Creator)
The University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW )
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Abstract: Humans and the ecosystem services they depend on are threatened by climate change. Places with high or growing human population as well as increasing climate variability, have a reduced ability to provide ecosystem services just as the need for these services is most critical. A spiral of vulnerability and ecosystem degradation often ensues in such places. We apply different global conservation schemes as proxies to examine the spatial relation between wet season precipitation, population change over three decades, and natural resource conservation. We pose two research questions: 1) Where are biodiversity and ecosystem services vulnerable to the combined effects of climate change and population growth? 2) Where are human populations vulnerable to degraded ecosystem services? Results suggest that globally only about 20% of the area between 50 degrees latitude North and South has experienced significant change–largely wetting–in wet season precipitation. Approximately 40% of rangelands and 30% of rainfed agriculture lands have experienced significant precipitation changes, with important implications for food security. Over recent decades a number of critical conservation areas experienced high population growth concurrent with significant wetting or drying (e.g. the Horn of Africa, Himalaya, Western Ghats, and Sri Lanka), posing challenges not only for human adaptation but also to the protection and sustenance of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Identifying areas of climate and population risk and their overlap with conservation priorities can help to target activities and resources that promote biodiversity and ecosystem services while improving human well-being.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2017
biodiversity, climate change, population

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