Climate change study warns 1 in 10 species could face extinction by 2100

Jul 11, 2011

One in 10 species could face extinction by the year 2100 if current climate change impacts continue. This is the result of University of Exeter research, examining studies on the effects of recent climate change on plant and animal species and comparing this with predictions of future declines.

Published in leading journal (PNAS), the study uses the well-established IUCN Red List for linking to . The research examines nearly 200 predictions of the future from studies conducted around the world, as well as 130 reports of changes which have already occurred.

The research shows that on average the declines that have already happened match predictions in terms of the relative risk to different species across the world.

Many studies have predicted that future climate change will threaten a range of with extinction. Some of these studies have been treated with caution because of uncertainty about how species will respond to climate change. But widely published research showing how animals and plants are already responding to climate change gave the Exeter team the opportunity to check whether the predictions were wide of the mark. By producing the largest review ever of such studies, they show that predictions have, on average, been accurate, or even slightly too cautious.

Lead author Dr Ilya Maclean of the University of Exeter said: "Our study is a wake-up call for action. The many species that are already declining could become extinct if things continue as they are. It is time to stop using the uncertainties as an excuse for not acting. Our research shows that the harmful effects of climate change are already happening and, if anything, exceed predictions."

The study covered a wide range of species in all types of habitat across the globe. The findings confirm that human-induced climate change is now a threat to global biodiversity.

Co-author Dr Robert Wilson, also of the University of Exeter, said: "By looking at such a range of studies from around the world, we found that the impacts of climate change can be felt everywhere, and among all groups of animals and plants. From birds to worms to marine mammals, from high mountain ranges to jungles and to the oceans, scientists seem to have been right that climate change is a real threat to species.

"We need to act now to prevent threatened species from becoming extinct. This means cutting carbon emissions and protecting species from the other threats they face, such as habitat loss and pollution."

Examples of existing responses to climate change:

Decreased ice cover in the Bering Sea reduced the abundance of bivalve molluscs from about 12 to three per square metre over a very short period of time (1999-2001). These shells are the main food source for species higher up the food chain, such as Spectacled Eider.

Climatic warming and droughts are causing severe declines in once-common amphibian species native to Yellowstone National Park in the United States of America. Between 1992-1993 and 2006- 2008, the number of blotched tiger salamander populations fell by nearly half, the number of spotted frog populations by 68 per cent, and the number of chorus frog populations by 75 per cent.

In Antarctica, few animals exist on land, but one of the most abundant, a nematode worm living in the soil in dry, cold valleys experienced a 65 per cent decline between 1993 and 2005 as a result of climate change.

Examples of predicted responses to climate change:

On Tenerife, an endemic plant, the Caňadas rockrose has a 74 to 83 per cent chance of going extinct in the next 100 years as a result of related droughts.

In Madagascar, climate warming is predicted to cause endemic reptiles and amphibians, often found in mountain ranges, to retreat towards the summit of the mounts. With a warming of just two degrees Celsius, well within current projections, three species are predicted to lose all of their habitat.

Birds living in northern Boreal Forests in Europe are expected to decline as a result of global warming. Species such as Dotterel are predicted to decline by 97 per cent by 2100 and such as Two-barred Crossbill and Pine Grosbeak could lose their entire range within Fenno-Scandia.

Explore further: India's ancient mammals survived multiple pressures

Related Stories

Global Warming Increases Species Extinctions Worldwide

Nov 15, 2006

Global warming has already caused extinctions in the most sensitive habitats and will continue to cause more species to go extinct over the next 50 to 100 years, confirms the most comprehensive study since 2003 on the effects ...

Land conversion and climate threaten land birds

Jun 05, 2007

Land conversion and climate change have already had significant impacts on biodiversity and associated ecosystem services.Using future land-cover projections from the recently completed Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, Walter ...

Global warming may bring mass species loss

Apr 11, 2006

A study by U.S. and Canadian scientists confirms earlier dire predictions of species loss, concluding global warming could spark mass species extinctions.

Climate change impacts stream life

May 04, 2007

Climate change is warming Welsh streams and rivers, affecting the number and variety of some of their smallest animals, a major Cardiff University study has found.

Recommended for you

India's ancient mammals survived multiple pressures

10 hours ago

Most of the mammals that lived in India 200,000 years ago still roam the subcontinent today, in spite of two ice ages, a volcanic super-eruption and the arrival of people, a study reveals.

User comments : 14

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Shootist
1.7 / 5 (11) Jul 11, 2011
"The Polar Bears will be fine." - Freeman Dyson to wife after viewing algore's "Inconvenient Truth".

Is your ego large enough to argue with Freeman Dyson?
Sanescience
not rated yet Jul 11, 2011
Any discussion of loss of species needs to include the propensity of humans to spread invasive organisms throughout the world.

Many independent biospheres can support a much more diverse rage of species than a unifying biosphere implemented by human travel.
djr
4.1 / 5 (9) Jul 11, 2011
Is your ego large enough to argue with Freeman Dyson?

And Lord Kelvin (who is buried in Westminster Abby - next to Sir Isaac Newton) - said "Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible." So I guess being a world renown physicist and engineer does not necessarily make you right. Oh - I already knew that!
NotParker
2.7 / 5 (7) Jul 11, 2011
Natives are allowed to shoot well over 1000 polar bears per year ... so the polar bear is threatened ... by man directly ... not by warming.
plaasjaapie
2.2 / 5 (10) Jul 11, 2011
"So I guess being a world renown physicist and engineer does not necessarily make you right. Oh - I already knew that! "

And being a huckster like Gore with no technical credentials whatsoever doesn't either, whatever the Nobel committee thinks. :-D
tpb
2.3 / 5 (9) Jul 12, 2011
There are about 1.8 million known species, not including bacteria.
Losing 1 in 10 in 88 years would be 2045 species a year.
You would be hard pressed to name 50 in the last 100 years, and most if not all by hunting and invasive species.

This article is pure speculation, without any credible proof.

This article is absurd
djr
3.6 / 5 (7) Jul 12, 2011
And being a huckster like Gore with no technical credentials whatsoever doesn't either, whatever the Nobel committee thinks. :-D

I could not agree more - I think Al Gore is a know nothing - publicity seeking hypocrite. I would not listen to a word he says. But I would listen the National Academy of Science - whose publication printed this article - which makes this article interesting to me - I am interested in science - seems to put me in the minority.
gmurphy
3.4 / 5 (7) Jul 12, 2011
Actually, the polar bears are not going to be alright: http://en.wikiped..._change, their populations have been steadily degrading as the temperatures have increased in the Arctic. Perhaps someone should let Freeman Dyson know this...
djr
3.7 / 5 (3) Jul 12, 2011
gmurphy - I agree. On the Dyson question - here is a video with Steven Hawking and Carl Sagan sharing their fears about warming. Hawking said he was afraid that Earth "might end up like Venus, at 250 degrees centigrade and raining sulfuric acid."
http://www.youtub...PicT0TMU

I definitely think that 2 world famous scientists trumps one world famous scientist (sarcasm). David
astro_optics
1 / 5 (1) Jul 12, 2011
I bet they didn't include any stats on the new species that come into existence!
NotParker
1 / 5 (1) Jul 14, 2011
Actually, the polar bears are not going to be alright: http://en.wikiped..._change, their populations have been steadily degrading as the temperatures have increased in the Arctic. Perhaps someone should let Freeman Dyson know this...


Shooting 1000 of them each year would explain any drop.
J-n
5 / 5 (3) Jul 15, 2011
You would be hard pressed to name 50 in the last 100 years


Not only was it easy, I did it without listing fish, amphibians, insects, mollusks, plants, molds, fungi, or bacteria.

Give me another 5 min and i could give you another 50 if you'd like.

(all in past 100 years)

Arabian Ostrich
Atitlan Grebe
Baiji River Dolphin
Bali Tiger
Banks Island Wolf
Barbary Lion
Bubal Hartebeest
Bushwren
Canarian Black Oystercatcher
Cape Verde Giant Skink
Caribbean Monk Seal
Carolina Parakeet
Caspian Tiger
Caucasian Wisent
Colombian Grebe
Crescent Nail-tail Wallaby
Desert Rat Kangaroo
Dusky Seaside Sparrow
Golden Toad
Grand Cayman Thrush
Guam Flying Fox
Hawai'i 'O'o
Heath Hen
Japanese Sea Lion
Javan Tiger
Kaua'i 'O'o
Labrador Duck
Laughing Owl
Laysan Rail
Little Swan Island Hutia
Majorcan Hare
Palestinian Painted Frog
Pallid Beach Mouse
Paradise Parrot
Passenger Pigeon
Phantom Shiner
Pyrenean Ibex
Quagga
Ratas Island Lizard
Roque Chico de Salmor Giant Lizard
Round Island Burrowing Boa
J-n
5 / 5 (3) Jul 15, 2011
Ryukyu Wood-pigeon
Santo Stefano Lizard
Schomburgk's Deer
South Island Piopio
Tasmanian Wolf
Thicktail Chub
Toolache Wallaby
Wake Island Rail
Western Black Rhinoceros

I hope that helps clear up the whole "Hard pressed to come up with 50 in the past 100 years." issue... I might be hard pressed to come up with 1000 in the past 100 years, but it would just be a matter of properly searching the IUCN Red List.

--- oops seems a fish and an amphibian jumped onto my list, here are two more to account for those

Merriam's Elk
Honsh Wolf
J-n
5 / 5 (3) Jul 15, 2011
Should be Honshu Wolf*

More news stories

Deadly human pathogen Cryptococcus fully sequenced

Within each strand of DNA lies the blueprint for building an organism, along with the keys to its evolution and survival. These genetic instructions can give valuable insight into why pathogens like Cryptococcus ne ...

Hackathon team's GoogolPlex gives Siri extra powers

(Phys.org) —Four freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania have taken Apple's personal assistant Siri to behave as a graduate-level executive assistant which, when asked, is capable of adjusting the temperature ...

Better thermal-imaging lens from waste sulfur

Sulfur left over from refining fossil fuels can be transformed into cheap, lightweight, plastic lenses for infrared devices, including night-vision goggles, a University of Arizona-led international team ...

Researchers discover target for treating dengue fever

Two recent papers by a University of Colorado School of Medicine researcher and colleagues may help scientists develop treatments or vaccines for Dengue fever, West Nile virus, Yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis and other ...