Strategies for Preventing Climate Change Induced Extinction

by Alexander Birk

Climate change is an increasingly problematic obstacle in slowing the rate of species extinction and has been widely accepted as the major threat to biodiversity. With this threat rising, there needs to be a better strategy to protect species. Identifying a species as in danger of extinction is the key to saving them, the current system to detect potential extinctions does not give enough time to effectively save some species once they have been deemed endangered. According to Stanton et al. (2014) it would be much more effective to put species into more specific categories leading up to extinction. This would allow for a more visible pattern of endangerment over the years leading to a trajectory of where the species is headed. Stanton et al. (2014)

The trajectories made by Stanton et al. have been formed for three climate change scenarios: no change in emissions, reduced carbon emissions, and high carbon emissions. The trajectories will span 36 unique habitats through the year 2100. When a species begins to meet certain criteria it is identified as a “Red List” species. As a species approaches the “Red List” it can be tracked more closely. With earlier awareness, the rates of survival are projected to increase dramatically. Ultimately the trajectories will simulate how species’ population patterns can tell us about the possible trajectory of the population as a whole. The goal is to find out if this new form of categorizing species could help ease the rates of extinction.

The different scenarios affect the outcome due to the effects of carbon on the subject species’ habitats. In each model the effects on the environment are critical in the projections of species. As carbon levels rise, habitats become depleted and extinction rates are projected to rise. The rate of red list species dramatically increases as the carbon levels are raised. With the new proposed trajectory model, the signs of endangerment are found earlier than with the current model. Being able to see trends in populations has a significant effect on the possibility of species survival. Having this ability can let people know how and where to focus conservation efforts.

Jessica C Stanton, Kevin T. Shoemaker, Richard G. Pearson, H. Resit Akcakaya. 2014. Warning times for species extinctions due to climate change. Global Change Biology. doi: 10.1111/gcb.12721



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