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Climate Change and
Biodiversity in
North America
Jorge Soberon
University of Kansas
Biodiversity of North America
• The three NAFTA countries
represent a region of
tremendous biodiversity
• Mexico is the 4th
Megadiverse country. The
United States is the 13th
Megadiverse country
• Canada has low numbers of
species but ecosystems of
high global importance and
many charismatic species.
North America will be affected
NOAA, “Middle of the Road” Scenario using CM.1
Climate change and biodiversity
• Obviously, climate change
will affect distributions of
• Think
endangered species
vectors of diseases
agricultural pests
invasive species
• Think major economic and
social disruptions
To an extent, changes are predictable
• Requires efforts and
resources to computerize the
hundreds of millions of data
records still remaining
• Share those records
(NABIN, the first
operational example of
distributed biodiversity data
sharing was a CEC
• Cutting-edge algorithms
Total Number of Changes
•Peterson et al, 2002 Future
Projections for Mexican
Faunas under Global Change
Scenarios Nature 416:626629
•1870 species, (1,179 birds,
416 mammals and 175
• Advocacy, Mitigation, Adaptation,…require
negotiations, legislation changes, budgets,
• Multiplicity of stakeholders at different levels
(local, regional, national, international).
• Different property right systems, land-owning
regimes, systems of values.
• Markets at many levels and scales
• Uncertainties are truly large.
Extent and resolution of knowledge
• Uncertainties are very large at every step. Errors
• Our predictions tend to be either low-resolution, order
of magnitude.
• For some important components of biodiversity, it
may be fair to say that we can predict the logarithms
of what is going to happen, at the scale of “counties”
• For human actions, we cannot even predict whether
they will take place!
• What can we do with that?
We will need tremendous flexibility…
• In the structure of
• In agricultural
• Preserving genetic
• Monitor extensively
(citizen science)
• In governance (educated
public), fast responses
Do not put all eggs in one basket,
at all levels
• Subsidies not to yield, but to sustainability and
• Redesign the economic valuation system. Figure-in
the “externalities”.
• Facilitate society to pay for easements. Figure ways
of paying for ecosystem services
• Promote alternatives: Sustainable Forestry, Wildlife
Management, Ecofriendly agriculture. Organic, notilling, IPM
• Develop different conservation paradigms
• Biodiversity and human
welfare are intimately linked
• The three North American
countries share some of the
longest borders in the
planet, hugely important
ecosystems, migratory
species, and our economies
are integrating more and
• Climate change will affect
the region as a whole, and
we must be prepared to deal
with those changes
Abiotic niche
of abiotic and
conditions (=
Actual geographic distribution
(abiotic and biotic conditions fulfilled,
accessible to dispersers)
Biotic interactions