How Does Climate Change Affect Biodiversity? – DISCOVER Magazine

by | Aug 18, 2022 | Climate Change

The consequences of climate change are becoming clearer and clearer: Earlier this year, a report by the International Panel on Climate Change warned that now that we’ve surpassed 1.1 degrees Celsius of warming, impacts are already being felt across the globe, from still-smoldering wildfires to historic droughts. Experts underline the need to tackle both climate change and the loss of biodiversity, as the two are inextricably linked. Here are a few of the ways that climate change is impacting the Earth’s biodiversity.     ‘Rainforests of the Sea’ Under Pressure (Credit: Ethan Daniels/Shutterstock) Rising temperatures and ocean acidification can cause stress to coral reefs, increasing so-called “bleaching events.” When exposed, corals expel the life-giving algae that live within them, leaving them a ghostly white.By 2050, 90 percent of the world’s coral reefs could undergo annual bleaching, according to the conservation NGO Coral Reef Alliance. Such events can cause a knock-on effect for the numerous species that rely upon reefs — up to 25 percent of known marine species — potentially triggering long-lasting losses. One estimate states that around 50 percent of reefs are already degraded due to climate change and other pressures such as overfishing and pollution. The good news is that research suggests reefs can (and will) adapt to moderate warming, if given the chance to do so.  Changing Animal Behavior  (Credit: catalinaug/Shutterstock) A changing climate also elicits changes in the behavior of wildlife. A meta-analysis of around 100 species — including fish, insects, amphibians, birds and mammals — published in the journal Oikos noted that human-induced environmental change is already doing just that. Climate change prompted the strongest response among species, researchers found, including increases in boldness and exploration.  There were other changes, too. In the Arctic, the researchers found that calves are being born earlier in Spring than usual, “roughly tracking rates of warming,” according to a press release. Birds, too, are nesting earlier than usual. The effects of climate change, combined with other changes such as habitat loss, also mean that some bird species, such as the redstart, are having more offspring than usual, while others, like the garden warbler, ar …

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