Ecological and Evolutionary Responses to Recent Climate Change. The Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics

Parmesan, Camille. Ecological and Evolutionary  Responses to Recent Climate Change. The Annual  Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics  2006. 37:637-69.   Brief excerpt:   “In summary, the history of biological research  is rich in both mechanistic and observational  studies of the impacts of extreme weather and  climate change on wild species: Research  encompasses impacts of single extreme weather  events; experimental studies of physiological  tolerances; snapshot correlations between  climatic variables and species’ distributions;  and correlations through time between climatic  trends and changes in distributions, phenologies,  genetics, and behaviors of wild plants and  animals.”   Anthropogenic Climate Change   “In spite of this wealth of literature on the  fundamental importance of climate to wild biota,  biologists have been reluctant to believe that  modern (greenhouse gas-driven) climate change is  a cause of concern for biodiversity. In his  introduction to the 1992 Annual Review of  Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics volume on  ‘Global Environmental Change,’ Vitousek wrote,  ‘ultimately, climate change probably has the  greatest potential to alter the functioning of  the Earth system …. nevertheless, the major  effects of climate change are mostly in the  future while most of the others are already with  us.’ Individual authors in that volume tended to  agree – papers were predominantly concerned with  other global change factors: land use change,  nitrogen fertilization, and the direct effects of  increased atmospheric CO2 on plant ecophysiology.   Just 14 years later, the direct impacts of  anthropogenic climate change have been documented  on every continent, in every ocean, and in most  major taxonomic groups (reviewed in Badeck et al.  2004; Hoegh-Guldberg 1999, 2005b; Hughes 2000;  IPCC 2001a; Parmesan 2005b; Parmesan & Galbraith  2004; Parmesan & Yohe 2003; Penuelas & Filella  2001; Pounds et al. 2005; Root & Hughes 2005;  Root et al. 2003; Sparks & Menzel 2002; Thomas  2005; Walther et al. 2002, 2005).   The issue of whether observed biological changes  can be conclusively linked to anthropogenic  climate change has been analyzed and discussed at  length in a plethora of syntheses, including  those listed above. Similarly, complexity  surrounding methodological issues of detection  (correctly detecting a real trend) and  attribution (assigning causation) has been  explored in depth (Ahmad et al. 2001; Dose &  Menzel 2004; Parmesan 2002, 2005a,b; Parmesan &  Yohe 2003; Parmesan et al. 2000; Root et al.  2003, Root & Hughes 2005, Schwartz 1998, 1999;  Shoo et al. 2006). The consensus is that, with  proper attention to sampling and other  statistical issues and through the use of  scientific inference, studies of observed  biological changes can provide rigorous tests of  climate-change hypotheses. In particular,  independent syntheses of studies worldwide have  provided a clear, globally coherent conclusion:  Twentieth-century anthropogenic global warming  has already affected Earth’s biota.”   ———————————————————————-

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