Virtual Issue: Climate change – from problem detection to solution design and implementation

Edited by: Nathalie Pettorelli
June 2012

This Virtual Issue has been published to complement the Special Profile “Conservation in a Changing Climate”, published in 49:3.

We are entering a century of unprecedented global changes, with the current rate of biodiversity loss being thought to be at least 1000 times greater than natural extinction rates. An increasingly strong link is being established between human wellbeing and biodiversity, with the weight of scientific evidence suggesting humans depend on many aspects of biodiversity, particularly the structure and functioning of ecosystems and the services that they provide. Among the many threats to biodiversity, including habitat degradation, loss and fragmentation, depredation, invasive species, and diseases, changes in climatic conditions caused by anthropogenic activities is generally considered to be the largest indirect one. Climate change is generally understood as “global warming”, yet an increase in the average temperature on Earth is not the only expected consequence of increased greenhouse gas emissions: changes in precipitation and temperature patterns, changes in the frequency and severity of extreme events, and higher greenhouse gas concentrations are all likely to pose a threat to biodiversity. Because of the nature and scale of climate change, predicting the ecological, economical and societal consequences of this phenomenon, and using this information to design efficient adaptation and mitigation strategies, has become a priority for the scientific community.

Successfully mitigating the effects of climate change on living organisms and societies can be expected to rely on a good understanding of the processes leading to biodiversity loss, as well as relying on novel, integrative, applied research that engages with society and supports decision making processes at local, national and international scales. Because of its unique scope and broad audience, the Journal of Applied Ecology plays a key role in supporting the emergence of such research. To demonstrate this point, we have decided to compile a virtual issue on climate change, regrouping fifteen articles published in the past five years. These articles illustrate the complexity of assessing the impact of climate change on biodiversity and ecosystem services, highlighting for example how it can interact with other threats (in this case invasive species and excessive reactive nitrogen accumulation) to increase ecosystems’ vulnerability. They also show that small changes in current management practices can have important implications for climate change mitigation and adaptation, while demonstrating the importance of combining state-of-the-art modelling techniques with practitioners’ experience to successfully address current management priorities. We hope these articles will be of interest to stakeholders interested in climate change adaptation and mitigation, and we hope this virtual issue will help highlight the set of current opportunities for science to inform strategies to help reduce the impact of climate change on biodiversity and ecosystem services while broadening our understanding of ecological systems.

Assessing the impact of climate change on species and ecosystems

Climate change and deepening of the North Sea fish assemblage: a biotic indicator of warming seas.
Dulvy, Nicholas K.; Rogers, Stuart I.; Jennings, Simon; Stelzenmueller, Vanessa; Dye, Stephen R.; Skjoldal, Hein R.

Accounting for population variation improves estimates of the impact of climate change on species' growth and distribution.
O'Neill, Gregory A.; Hamann, Andreas; Wang, Tongli

Do changes in the frequency, magnitude and timing of extreme climatic events threaten the population viability of coastal birds?
van de Pol, Martijn; Ens, Bruno J.; Heg, Dik; Brouwer, Lyanne; Krol, Johan; Maier, Martin; Exo, Klaus-Michael; Oosterbeek, Kees; Lok, Tamar; Eising, Corine M.; Koffijberg, Kees

Climate change and range expansion of an aggressive bark beetle: evidence of higher beetle reproduction in naive host tree populations.
Cudmore, Timothy J.; Bjorklund, Niklas; Carroll, Allan L.; Lindgren, B. Staffan

Global warming and eutrophication: effects on water chemistry and autotrophic communities in experimental hypertrophic shallow lake mesocosms.
Feuchtmayr, Heidrun; Moran, Rebecca; Hatton, Keith; Connor, Les; Heyes, Tom; Moss, Brian; Harvey, Ian; Atkinson, David

Semi-arid grazing systems and climate change: a survey of present modelling potential and future needs.
Tietjen, Britta; Jeltsch, Florian

Re-thinking landscape management for climate change mitigation

Mapping an urban ecosystem service: quantifying above-ground carbon storage at a city-wide scale.
Davies, Zoe G.; Edmondson, Jill L.; Heinemeyer, Andreas; Leake, Jonathan R.; Gaston, Kevin J.

How can ecologists help realise the potential of payments for carbon in tropical forest countries?
Baker, Tim R.; Jones, Julia P. G.; Thompson, Olivia R. Rendon; Roman Cuesta, Rosa Maria; del Castillo, Dennis; Aguilar, Ivis Chan; Torres, Jorge; Healey, John R.

Getting a virtual forester fit for the challenge of climatic change.
 Rasche, Livia; Fahse, Lorenz; Zingg, Andreas; Bugmann, Harald

Developing informed, feasible adaptation strategies

Adapting landscapes to climate change: examples of climate-proof ecosystem networks and priority adaptation zones.
Vos, Claire C.; Berry, Pam; Opdam, Paul; Baveco, Hans; Nijhof, Bianca; O'Hanley, Jesse; Bell, Claire; Kuipers, H.

Conserving a moving target: planning protection for a migratory species as its distribution changes.
Singh, Navinder J.; Milner-Gulland, Eleanor J.

Gear-based fisheries management as a potential adaptive response to climate change and coral mortality.
Cinner, Joshua E.; McClanahan, Tim R.; Graham, Nicholas A. J.; Pratchett, Morgan S.; Wilson, Shaun K.; Raina, Jean-Baptiste

Forecasting the combined effects of urbanization and climate change on stream ecosystems: from impacts to management options. Nelson, Kaeren C.; Palmer, Margaret A.; Pizzuto, James E.; Moglen, Glenn E.; Angermeier, Paul L.; Hilderbrand, Robert H.; Dettinger, Michael; Hayhoe, Katharine

Experimental warming induces degradation of a Tibetan alpine meadow through trophic interactions
Li, Guoyong; Liu, Yinzhan; Frelich, Lee E.; Sun, Shucun

Ecosystem management based on natural disturbances: hierarchical context and non-equilibrium paradigm.
Mori, Akira S.

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