University of Queensland
Climate change and biodiversity: Migrate, adapt or die
Biodiversity faces many threats, of which climate change is one. But how will it respond to climate change, and what can we do about it? Species’ ecophysiology determines how they interact with and respond to their environments, and I will explore these interactions, describe what climate change looks like, in terms of changes in both climatic means and extremes, and discuss how we can predict impacts on biodiversity. Given that species exist where conditions are climatically suitable for them, what happens when the climate changes? Species are vulnerable to climate change in terms of both the climate exposure and their own characteristics. Vulnerability is determined by three factors, exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity. Of these, exposure is extrinsic and fixed, while sensitivity and adaptive capacity are intrinsic and governed by species’ traits. Together they determine a species’ response capacity to climate change, and knowledge of trait-based vulnerability can help us predict or describe impacts, and inform more effective conservation management.