Jan 9, 2004

Extinction risk from climate change

Nature
Chris D ThomasStephen E Williams

Abstract

Climate change over the past approximately 30 years has produced numerous shifts in the distributions and abundances of species and has been implicated in one species-level extinction. Using projections of species' distributions for future climate scenarios, we assess extinction risks for sample regions that cover some 20% of the Earth's terrestrial surface. Exploring three approaches in which the estimated probability of extinction shows a power-law relationship with geographical range size, we predict, on the basis of mid-range climate-warming scenarios for 2050, that 15-37% of species in our sample of regions and taxa will be 'committed to extinction'. When the average of the three methods and two dispersal scenarios is taken, minimal climate-warming scenarios produce lower projections of species committed to extinction ( approximately 18%) than mid-range ( approximately 24%) and maximum-change ( approximately 35%) scenarios. These estimates show the importance of rapid implementation of technologies to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and strategies for carbon sequestration.

  • References11
  • Citations1081

Citations

Mentioned in this Paper

Projections and Predictions
Vitreous Carbon
Human Geography
Greenhouse Effect
Biodiversity
Commit Lozenge
Sequestration
Desertification
Benefit-Risk Assessment

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