Identifying the Most Climate Change Vulnerable Species (Birds, Amphibians and Corals)

Climate change will have far-reaching impacts on biodiversity, including increasing extinction rates. 

A new study written by Wendy B. Foden from Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa and colleagues published in the prestigious journal PLOS ONE a framework for assessing three dimensions of climate change vulnerability, namely Sensitivity, Exposure and adaptive Capacity.

In the Largest such assessment to date, researchers applied this approach to each of the world’s Birds, Amphibians and Corals (16,857 species). The resulting assessments identify the species with greatest relative vulnerability to climate change and the geographic areas in which they are concentrated, including the Amazon basin for Amphibians and birds, and the central Indo-west Pacific (Coral Triangle) for Corals. They found that high concentration areas for species with traits conferring highest sensitivity and lowest adaptive capacity differ from those of highly exposed species, and identified areas where exposure-based assessments alone may over or under-estimate climate change impacts.
They found that 608–851 bird (6–9%), 670–933 amphibian (11–15%), and 47–73 coral species (6–9%) are both highly climate change vulnerable and already threatened with extinction on the IUCN Red List.

The remaining highly climate change vulnerable species represent new priorities for conservation.  As a conclusion,researchers found that Reducing greenhouse emissions will reduce climate change driven extinctions.

These results will strengthen global strategies to mitigate climate change impacts.
Source: Plos One