AGW Observer

Observations of anthropogenic global warming

New research – climate change impacts on biosphere (July 22, 2016)

Posted by Ari Jokimäki on July 22, 2016

Some of the latest papers on climate change impacts on biosphere are shown below. First a few highlighted papers with abstracts and then a list of some other papers. If this subject interests you, be sure to check also the other papers – they are by no means less interesting than the highlighted ones.


Rapid climate-driven loss of breeding habitat for Arctic migratory birds

Abstract: Millions of birds migrate to and from the Arctic each year, but rapid climate change in the High North could strongly affect where species are able to breed, disrupting migratory connections globally. We modelled the climatically suitable breeding conditions of 24 Arctic specialist shorebirds and projected them to 2070 and to the mid-Holocene climatic optimum, the world’s last major warming event ~6000 years ago. We show that climatically suitable breeding conditions could shift, contract and decline over the next 70 years, with 66–83% of species losing the majority of currently suitable area. This exceeds, in rate and magnitude, the impact of the mid-Holocene climatic optimum. Suitable climatic conditions are predicted to decline acutely in the most species rich region, Beringia (western Alaska and eastern Russia), and become concentrated in the Eurasian and Canadian Arctic islands. These predicted spatial shifts of breeding grounds could affect the species composition of the world’s major flyways. Encouragingly, protected area coverage of current and future climatically suitable breeding conditions generally meets target levels; however, there is a lack of protected areas within the Canadian Arctic where resource exploitation is a growing threat. Given that already there are rapid declines of many populations of Arctic migratory birds, our results emphasize the urgency of mitigating climate change and protecting Arctic biodiversity.

Diverse growth trends and climate responses across Eurasia’s boreal forest

Abstract: The area covered by boreal forests accounts for ~16% of the global and 22% of the Northern Hemisphere landmass. Changes in the productivity and functioning of this circumpolar biome not only have strong effects on species composition and diversity at regional to larger scales, but also on the Earth’s carbon cycle. Although temporal inconsistency in the response of tree growth to temperature has been reported from some locations at the higher northern latitudes, a systematic dendroecological network assessment is still missing for most of the boreal zone. Here, we analyze the geographical patterns of changes in summer temperature and precipitation across northern Eurasia >60 °N since 1951 AD, as well as the growth trends and climate responses of 445 Pinus, Larix and Picea ring width chronologies in the same area and period. In contrast to widespread summer warming, fluctuations in precipitation and tree growth are spatially more diverse and overall less distinct. Although the influence of summer temperature on ring formation is increasing with latitude and distinct moisture effects are restricted to a few southern locations, growth sensitivity to June–July temperature variability is only significant at 16.6% of all sites (p ≤ 0.01). By revealing complex climate constraints on the productivity of Eurasia’s northern forests, our results question the a priori suitability of boreal tree-ring width chronologies for reconstructing summer temperatures. This study further emphasizes regional climate differences and their role on the dynamics of boreal ecosystems, and also underlines the importance of free data access to facilitate the compilation and evaluation of massively replicated and updated dendroecological networks.

Air pollutants degrade floral scents and increase insect foraging times

Abstract: Flowers emit mixtures of scents that mediate plant-insect interactions such as attracting insect pollinators. Because of their volatile nature, however, floral scents readily react with ozone, nitrate radical, and hydroxyl radical. The result of such reactions is the degradation and the chemical modification of scent plumes downwind of floral sources. Large Eddy Simulations (LES) are developed to investigate dispersion and chemical degradation and modification of floral scents due to reactions with ozone, hydroxyl radical, and nitrate radical within the atmospheric surface layer. Impacts on foraging insects are investigated by utilizing a random walk model to simulate insect search behavior. Results indicate that even moderate air pollutant levels (e.g., ozone mixing ratios greater than 60 parts per billion on a per volume basis, ppbv) substantially degrade floral volatiles and alter the chemical composition of released floral scents. As a result, insect success rates of locating plumes of floral scents were reduced and foraging times increased in polluted air masses due to considerable degradation and changes in the composition of floral scents. Results also indicate that plant-pollinator interactions could be sensitive to changes in floral scent composition, especially if insects are unable to adapt to the modified scentscape. The increase in foraging time could have severe cascading and pernicious impacts on the fitness of foraging insects by reducing the time devoted to other necessary tasks.

Climate change and habitat conversion favour the same species

Abstract: Land-use change and climate change are driving a global biodiversity crisis. Yet, how species’ responses to climate change are correlated with their responses to land-use change is poorly understood. Here, we assess the linkages between climate and land-use change on birds in Neotropical forest and agriculture. Across > 300 species, we show that affiliation with drier climates is associated with an ability to persist in and colonise agriculture. Further, species shift their habitat use along a precipitation gradient: species prefer forest in drier regions, but use agriculture more in wetter zones. Finally, forest-dependent species that avoid agriculture are most likely to experience decreases in habitable range size if current drying trends in the Neotropics continue as predicted. This linkage suggests a synergy between the primary drivers of biodiversity loss. Because they favour the same species, climate and land-use change will likely homogenise biodiversity more severely than otherwise anticipated.

Climate adaptation is not enough: warming does not facilitate success of southern tundra plant populations in the high Arctic

Abstract: Rapidly rising temperatures are expected to cause latitudinal and elevational range shifts as species track their optimal climate north and upward. However, a lack of adaptation to environmental conditions other than climate – for example photoperiod, biotic interactions, or edaphic conditions – might limit the success of immigrants in a new location despite hospitable climatic conditions. Here we present one of the first direct experimental tests of the hypothesis that warmer temperatures at northern latitudes will confer a fitness advantage to southern immigrants relative to native populations. As rates of warming in the Arctic are more than double the global average, understanding the impacts of warming in Arctic ecosystems is especially urgent. We established experimentally warmed and non-warmed common garden plots at Alexandra Fiord, Ellesmere Island in the Canadian High Arctic with seeds of two forb species (Oxyria digyna and Papaver radicatum) originating from 3-5 populations at different latitudes across the Arctic. We found that plants from the local populations generally had higher survival and obtained a greater maximum size than foreign individuals, regardless of warming treatment. Phenological traits varied with latitude of the source population, such that southern populations demonstrated substantially delayed leaf-out and senescence relative to northern populations. Our results suggest that environmental conditions other than temperature may influence the ability of foreign populations and species to establish at more northerly latitudes as the climate warms, potentially leading to lags in northward range shifts for some species.

Short-term climate change manipulation effects do not scale up to long-term legacies: Effects of an absent snow cover on boreal forest plants

Abstract: 1.Despite time lags and non-linearity in ecological processes, the majority of our knowledge about ecosystem responses to long-term changes in climate originates from relatively short-term experiments.

2.We utilized the longest ongoing snow removal experiment in the world and an additional set of new plots at the same location in northern Sweden to simultaneously measure the effects of long-term (11 winters) and short-term (1 winter) absence of snow cover on boreal forest understorey plants, including effects on root growth and phenology.

3.Short-term absence of snow reduced vascular plant cover in the understorey by 42%, reduced fine root biomass by 16%, reduced shoot growth by up to 53%, and induced tissue damage on two common dwarf shrubs. In the long-term manipulation, more substantial effects on understorey plant cover (92% reduced) and standing fine root biomass (39% reduced) were observed, whereas other response parameters, such as tissue damage, were observed less. Fine root growth was generally reduced, and its initiation delayed by c. 3 (short-term) to 6 weeks (long-term manipulation).

4.Synthesis We show that one extreme winter with a reduced snow cover can already induce ecologically significant alterations. We also show that long-term changes were smaller than suggested by an extrapolation of short-term manipulation results (using a constant proportional decline). In addition, some of those negative responses, such as frost damage and shoot growth, were even absolutely stronger in the short-term compared to the long-term manipulation. This suggests adaptation or survival of only those individuals that are able to cope with these extreme winter conditions, and that the short-term manipulation alone would over-predict long-term impacts. These results highlight both the ecological importance of snow cover in this boreal forest, and the value of combining short- and long-term experiments side by side in climate change research.

Other papers

Observed forest sensitivity to climate implies large changes in 21st century North American forest growth

An ecoregion assessment of projected tree species vulnerabilities in western North America through the 21st century

A risk-benefit model to simulate vegetation spring onset in response to multi-decadal climate variability: Theoretical basis and applications from the field to the Northern Hemisphere

Contrasting effects of summer and winter warming on body mass explain population dynamics in a food-limited Arctic herbivore

Vulnerability of stream community composition and function to projected thermal warming and hydrologic change across ecoregions in the western United States

Effects of permafrost thaw on nitrogen availability and plant-soil interactions in a boreal Alaskan lowland

Explaining inter-annual variability of gross primary productivity from plant phenology and physiology

Realized climate niche breadth varies with population trend and distribution in North American birds

Tracking lags in historical plant species’ shifts in relation to regional climate change

Multiple cues influence multiple traits in the phenotypically plastic melanization of the cabbage white butterfly

Richer histories for more relevant policies: 42 years of tree cover loss and gain in Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia

Tracking the long-term responses of diatoms and cladocerans to climate warming and human influences across lakes of the Ring of Fire in the Far North of Ontario, Canada

Exposure to a heat wave under food limitation makes an agricultural insecticide lethal: a mechanistic laboratory experiment

Assessing European ecosystem stability to drought in the vegetation growing season

Phosphorus feedbacks may constrain tropical ecosystem responses to changes in atmospheric CO2 and climate

Simulated annual changes in plant functional types and their responses to climate change on the northern Tibetan Plateau

Earth science data records of global forest cover and change: Assessment of accuracy in 1990, 2000, and 2005 epochs

Climate change: consequences on the pollination of grasses in Perugia (Central Italy). A 33-year-long study

Tree demography dominates long-term growth trends inferred from tree rings

Advanced long-term bird banding and climate data mining in spring confirm passerine population declines for the Northeast Chinese-Russian flyway

Thermal growth potential of Atlantic cod by the end of the 21st century

Fern species richness and abundance are indicators of climate change on high-elevation islands: evidence from an elevational gradient on Tahiti (French Polynesia)

Achieving climate connectivity in a fragmented landscape

Global change and ecosystem connectivity: How geese link fields of central Europe to eutrophication of Arctic freshwaters

Herbivory and nutrient limitation protect warming tundra from lowland species’ invasion and diversity loss

Impacts of warming and elevated CO2 on a semi-arid grassland are non-additive, shift with precipitation, and reverse over time

Changes in Sahelian annual vegetation growth and phenology since 1960: A modeling approach

Growth and carbon relations of mature Picea abies trees under five years of free air CO2 enrichment

Assessment and prediction of the first-flowering dates for the major fruit trees in Korea using a multi-RCM ensemble

Dynamically downscaling predictions for deciduous tree leaf emergence in California under current and future climate

Infection risk decreases with increasing mismatch in host and pathogen environmental tolerances

Heat resistance throughout ontogeny: body size constrains thermal tolerance

Increased autumn rainfall disrupts predator-prey interactions in fragmented boreal forests

Bivalve aquaculture-environment interactions in the context of climate change

Flawed citation practices facilitate the unsubstantiated perception of a global trend toward increased jellyfish blooms

2 Responses to “New research – climate change impacts on biosphere (July 22, 2016)”

  1. Super collection, thanks!!

  2. Ari Jokimäki said

    I’m glad you like it.🙂

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