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The Effects of Climate Change on
Biological Diversity
Andrea Donaldson
National Environment and Planning Agency
Biological Diversity/Biodiversity
“the variability among living organisms from
all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial,
marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the
ecological complexes of which they are part;
this includes diversity within species, between
species and of ecosystems” (Convention on
Biological Diversity)
Threats to Biodiversity
Land use and land cover changes
Soil, air and water pollution
Diversion of water to intensively managed ecosystems
and urban systems
Habitat fragmentation
Selective exploitation of species
Introduction of species
Climate Change
Projected Impact of Climate
Earth’s mean surface temperature will warm to
1.4 to 5.80C by the end of the 21st century –
land areas warming more than the ocean, high
latitudes more than tropics
Sea level will rise 0.09 to 0.88m
Precipitation will increase in high-latitude and equatorial
areas and decrease in subtropics
Potential Impact of Climate
Change on Biodiversity
Changing the
timing in reproduction animals and plants
migration pattern of animals
length of the growing season
species distribution
population sizes
frequency of pest and disease outbreaks
Potential Impact cont’d
Risk of extinction
increases for many species already vulnerable
species with limited climatic ranges, restricted habitat requirements
and small populations are vulnerable
little evidence that climate change slows species loss, there is
however evidence that it may increase species loss.
Impact on Biodiversity in Small
Island States
Increases in the frequency of hurricanes or wind speed
could negatively affect habitats.
Mangroves, seagrass beds, other coastal ecosystems and
associated biodiversity will be affected.
Saltwater intrusion into freshwater habitats
Potential loss of coral reef associated species due to coral bleaching
and reduced calcification rates.
Inundation and flooding of low-lying forested area
Past changes in the global climate resulted in major shifts in
species ranges and reorganization of biological communities,
landscapes, and biomes during the last 1.8 million years. This
occurred when the landscape was not as fragmented as today,
and with little or no pressure from human activities.
Today’s climate change along with other human pressures is
stressing biodiversity beyond the levels imposed by the global
climatic change in the recent evolutionary past.