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Assessing Threats and Impacts

The impacts of climate change, such as sea level rise, increased air and ocean temperatures, and increased frequency of extreme climatic events can directly and indirectly impact on biodiversity. An essential first step in developing climate change response activities is, therefore, to identify the specific threats to a species or ecosystem. For example, coral reefs are threatened by the bleaching that occurs with changes in ocean temperature and chemistry and forests and agricultural systems are vulnerable to increased incidents of disease and pest outbreaks as a result of changing climatic conditions. Once impacts and threats have been identified, monitoring the threats is essential in determining how the ongoing process of climate change is affecting ecosystems.

The table below can be organized by hazard, biome or impact.

Hazards Affect on Biodiversity Biome
Increased air temperatures
Increased number of hot days Increased heat stress on biodiversity Agricultural biodiversity
Dry and sub-humid lands biodiversity
Forest biodiversity
Inland waters biodiversity
Island biodiversity
Marine and coastal biodiversity
Mountain biodiversity
Increased exposure to pests and diseases Agricultural biodiversity
Dry and sub-humid lands biodiversity
Forest biodiversity
Island biodiversity
Mountain biodiversity
Increased drying of wetlands and waterways Inland waters biodiversity
Changes in timing of biological events Agricultural biodiversity
Dry and sub-humid lands biodiversity
Forest biodiversity
Inland Waters biodiversity
Island biodiversity
Marine and coastal biodiversity
Mountain biodiversity
Melting permafrost Changes in nutrient cycling and soil biodiversity· Forest biodiversity
Mountain biodiversity
Increased mortality and disturbance of critical habitat as a result of sea level rise Island biodiversity
Marine and coastal biodiversity
Decreased ice cover Reduced winterkills· Forest biodiversity
Inland waters biodiversity
Increased water temperature Decreased dissolved oxygen· Inland biodiversity
Marine and coastal biodiversity
Increased vulnerability to invasive alien species · Inland waters biodiversity
Island biodiversity
Marine and coastal biodiversity
Coral die-offs (coral bleaching)· Island biodiversity
Marine and coastal biodiversity
Increase in instances of disease amongst fish · Inland waters biodiversity
Island biodiversity
Marine and coastal biodiversity
Loss of habitat for cold- and cool water fish· Inland waters biodiversity
Island biodiversity
Marine and coastal biodiversity
Reduced productivity of marine systems (coral reefs and seagrass beds) Marine and coastal biodiversity
Glacial retreat and decreased snow cover Changing hydrological regimes· Mountain biodiversity
Changes in seasonal cues for mountain biodiversity· Mountain biodiversity
Increased predation· Mountain biodiversity
Disruptions in hibernation patterns· Mountain biodiversity
Reduced insulating protection from snow Mountain biodiversity
Sea level rise Increased mortality and disturbance of critical habitat · Island biodiversity
Marine and coastal biodiversity
Salt water intrusion (coastal wetlands)· Island biodiversity
Marine and coastal biodiversity
Increased erosion (beaches / coastal cliffs) Island biodiversity
Marine and coastal biodiversity
Changes in precipitation regimes
Increased instances of drought during the dry season Loss of ground cover leading to desertification and loss of soil biodiversity· Agricultural biodiversity
Dry and sub-humid lands biodiversity
Forest biodiversity
Island biodiversity
Mountain biodiversity
Increased water stress on biodiversity · Agricultural biodiversity
Dry and sub-humid lands biodiversity
Forest biodiversity
Island biodiversity
Mountain biodiversity
Reduced availability of food and fodder· Agricultural biodiversity
Salinization in irrigated areas· Agricultural biodiversity
Increased risk of fire· Agricultural biodiversity
Forest biodiversity
Island biodiversity
Mountain biodiversity
Changes in natural flow regimes of rivers and streams Inland waters biodiversity
Increased flooding during the wet season Increased erosion of soil biodiversity· Agricultural biodiversity
Dry and sub-humid lands biodiversity
Forest biodiversity
Marine and coastal biodiversity
Increased land degradation· Agricultural biodiversity
Dry and sub-humid lands biodiversity
Forest biodiversity
Marine and coastal biodiversity
Increased threats from water-borne disease· Agricultural biodiversity
Dry and sub-humid lands biodiversity
Forest biodiversity
Marine and coastal biodiversity
Increased habitat destruction from flooding· Agricultural biodiversity
Dry and sub-humid lands biodiversity
Forest biodiversity
Marine and coastal biodiversity
Changes in natural flow regimes of rivers and streams Inland waters biodiversity
Increased frequency of extreme climatic events
Disruption in growth and reproduction Decreased overall productivity · Agricultural biodiversity
Dry and sub-humid lands biodiversity
Forest biodiversity
Inland waters biodiversity
Island biodiversity
Marine and coastal biodiversity
Mountain biodiversity
Decrease in ecosystem resilience (reduced recovery time between events) Agricultural biodiversity
Dry and sub-humid lands biodiversity
Forest biodiversity
Inland waters biodiversity
Island biodiversity
Marine and coastal biodiversity
Mountain biodiversity
Heightened storm surges Increased mortality Agricultural biodiversity
Dry and sub-humid lands biodiversity
Forest biodiversity
Inland waters biodiversity
Island biodiversity
Marine and coastal biodiversity
Mountain biodiversity
Increased mortality and disturbance of critical habitat · Island biodiversity
Marine and coastal biodiversity
Habitat loss (especially mangroves, reefs, sandbars and beaches) Island biodiversity
Marine and coastal biodiversity

Threat Studies

The database below provides access to scientific studies and other resources on climate change threats to biodiversity. These resources can be used to help determine the risks to biodiversity in specific biomes and regions of the world.

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Impactos, vulnerabilidad y adaptación al cambio climático de la biodiversidad Española. 1. Flora y vegetación
Type: Case Study
Date Added: 21 Apr 2011
Este libro presenta los resultados de un proyecto realizado entre los años 2008 y 2010 con el objetivo de evaluar los potenciales efectos del cambio climático sobre la flora española....
Deep-sea ecosystem response to climate changes: the eastern Mediterranean case study
Type: Scientific Paper
Date Added: 20 Apr 2011
Climate change is significantly modifying ecosystem functioning on a global scale, but little is known about the response of deep-sea ecosystems to such change. In the past decade, extensive climate change has modified the physico–chemical characteristics of deep waters in the eastern Mediterranean....
Potential Effects of Climate Change on Ecosystem and Tree Species Distribution in British Columbia
Type: Scientific Paper
Date Added: 20 Apr 2011
An ecosystem-based climate envelope modeling approach was applied to assess potential climate change impacts on forest communities and tree species in British Columbia, Canada....
HABIT-CHANGE Project
Type: Case Study
Date Added: 4 Jan 2011
The project "Adaptive Management of Climate-induced Changes of Habitat Diversity in Protected Areas" (HABIT-CHANGE) is implemented within the INTERREG IV B CENTRAL EUROPE programme. The acronym of the project not only stands for the expected habitat changes caused by climate change but also for the ...
Impact des changements climatiques sur la biodiversité en Mer Méditerranée
Type: Case Study
Date Added: 31 Jul 2008
Cette étude s’inscrit dans le cadre des réflexions, initiées par le Centre d’Activités Régionales pour les Aires Spécialement Protégées (CAR/ASP), sur la gestion durable de la mer, du littoral et des ressources marines, telle qu’inscrite dans la Stratégie Méditerranéenne pour le Développement Durabl...
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Assessment Tools

Below are some of the tools that can be used to assess the impacts of climate change on biodiversity. These tools include experimentation, impact projections, empirical analogue studies, and expert judgment. Case studies of governments and organizations using these tools are also presented.

Filter Criteria
Impact:
  Word Search:
HABIT-CHANGE Project
Type: Case Study
Date Added: 4 Jan 2011
The project "Adaptive Management of Climate-induced Changes of Habitat Diversity in Protected Areas" (HABIT-CHANGE) is implemented within the INTERREG IV B CENTRAL EUROPE programme. The acronym of the project not only stands for the expected habitat changes caused by climate change but also for the ...
Climate Change and Agriculture in Africa
Type: Scientific Paper
Date Added: 21 Jan 2008
The project aims to improve national and regional assessments of the economic impact of climate change on the agricultural sector of eleven African countries, and to determine the economic value of various adaptation options. The project, which will build upon work of the Intergovernmental Panel on ...
Global Change and Mountain Regions Research Strategy
Type: Case Study
Date Added: 19 Apr 2007
Section 3.6 of this report on climate change and mountain ecosystems deals specifically with the monitoring of biodiversity. The report describes research goals and actions to take to achieve these goals. Among the actions descrbied are monitoring activities, such as measuring of snow cover, veget...
Towards an integrated coastal simulator of the impact of sea level rise in East Anglia: Part B2
Type: Scientific Paper
Date Added: 19 Apr 2007
Models of Biodiversity Responses to Environmental Change: This report, offered in several parts from the Tyndall Centre, addresses the needs of East Anglia, England to adapt to rising sea levels and coastal erosion due to storms. Part B2 describes the modeling process of identifying the areas that...
Towards an integrated coastal simulator of the impact of sea level rise in East Anglia: Part B1
Type: Scientific Paper
Date Added: 19 Apr 2007
This report, offered in several parts from the Tyndall Centre, addresses the needs of East Anglia, England to adapt to rising sea levels and coastal erosion due to storms. This section describes the process of creating a computer simulation of environmental processes that govern coastal dynamics. ...
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  • United Nations Environment Programme