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A Changing Climate

The Pacific Islands are extremely vulnerable to the effects of a changing climate.  However, incorporating climate change components into protected area planning is a relatively new field and for some practitioners, has not been considered in management planning or implementation.  The resources in this section are intended to assist practitioners with monitoring, managing and adapting for climate change within a protected areas framework.  

Climate change threatens New Guinea’s biocultural heritage

New Guinea is the most biologically and linguistically diverse tropical island on Earth, yet the potential impacts of climate change on its biocultural heritage remain unknown. Analyzing 2353 endemic plant species distributions, we find that 63% of species are expected to have smaller geographic ranges by 2070. As a result, ecoregions may have an average of −70 ± 40 fewer species by 2070.

The commonness of rarity: Global and future distribution of rarity across land plants

A key feature of life’s diversity is that some species are common but many more are rare. Nonetheless, at global scales, we do not know what fraction of biodiversity consists of rare species. Here, we present the largest compilation of global plant diversity to quantify the fraction of Earth’s plant biodiversity that are rare. A large fraction, ~36.5% of Earth’s ~435,000 plant species, are exceedingly rare. Sampling biases and prominent models, such as neutral theory and the k-niche model, cannot account for the observed prevalence of rarity.

Climate tipping points — too risky to bet against

Politicians, economists and even some natural scientists have tended to assume that tipping points1 in the Earth system — such as the loss of the Amazon rainforest or the West Antarctic ice sheet — are of low probability and little understood. Yet evidence is mounting that these events could be more likely than was thought, have high impacts and are interconnected across different biophysical systems, potentially committing the world to long-term irreversible changes.

Integrating climate adaptation and biodiversity conservation in the global ocean

The impacts of climate change and the socioecological challenges they present are ubiquitous and increasingly severe. Practical efforts to operationalize climate-responsive design and management in the global network of marine protected areas (MPAs) are required to ensure long-term effectiveness for safeguarding marine biodiversity and ecosystem services. Here, we review progress in integrating climate change adaptation into MPA design and management and provide eight recommendations to expedite this process.

Navigating transformation of biodiversity and climate

This planet is the home of life, born into existence and transformed over 3.8 billion years into a continuous tapestry, covering all possible places from the deep ocean floors to mountain summits. Ours is a bioclimatic world in which every organism, from bacterium to blue whale, inseparably contributes to the climate and surface conditions of Earth. This tapestry, of which we are a part, is unraveling, with its delicate patterns and motifs denigrated to near invisibility, disappearing at a rate and magnitude that rivals that of the great mass extinction events of the past (2, 3).

'The Future is Now: Science for Sustainable Development' - Global Sustainable Development Report 2019

Despite considerable efforts these past four years, we are not on track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. We must dramatically step up the pace of implementation as we enter a decisive decade for people and the planet. We must connect the dots across all that we do – as individuals, civic groups, corporations, municipalities and Member States of the United Nations – and truly embrace the principles of inclusion and sustainability. Science is our great ally in the efforts to achieve the Goals.

Coral Reefs and People in a High-CO2 World: Where Can Science Make a Difference to People?

Increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere put shallow, warm-water coral reef ecosystems, and the people who depend upon them at risk from two key global environmental stresses: 1) elevated sea surface temperature (that can cause coral bleaching and related mortality), and 2) ocean acidification. These global stressors: cannot be avoided by local management, compound local stressors, and hasten the loss of ecosystem services.

Adaptive marine conservation planning in the face of climate change: What can we learn from physiological, ecological and genetic studies?

Rapid anthropogenic climate change is a major threat to ocean biodiversity, increasing the challenge for marine conservation. Strategic conservation planning, and more recently marine spatial planning (MSP) are among the most promising management tools to operationalize and enforce marine conservation. As yet, climate change is seldom incorporated into these plans, potentially curtailing the effectiveness of designated conservation areas under novel environmental conditions.

A framework for understanding climate change impacts on coral reef social–ecological systems

Corals and coral-associated species are highly vulnerable to the emerging effects of global climate change. The widespread degradation of coral reefs, which will be accelerated by climate change, jeopardizes the goods and services that tropical nations derive from reef ecosystems. However, climate change impacts to reef social–ecological systems can also be bi-directional. For example, some climate impacts, such as storms and sea level rise, can directly impact societies, with repercussions for how they interact with the environment.