A biodiversity roundup

October 20, 2008 at 10:40 pm | Posted in Climate impacts, Climate science research | Leave a comment
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Polar bears may be the most high profile of the animals facing a loss of habitat in a warming world, but it’s safe to say they’re hardly alone. 

Just how many plant and animal species would be impacted by a changing climate, however, and in what way, are tough questions to answer. 

In fact, both questions have been in the news a lot the last few weeks, so read on if you’d like a biodiversity news roundup.    

MacArthur Foundation

At the beginning of October, the MacArthur Foundation allotted $50 million to conservation groups working in eight “biodiversity hotspots,” places with extraordinarily high concentrations of species. 

The places read like a dream vacation itinerary: the Lower Mekong River region, the eastern Himalayas, the Melanesian islands, Madagascar, the Albertine Rift in southern Africa, parts of the Caribbean, and the southern and northern Andes in Latin America. According to the foundation: 

“The scale and urgency of the climate change problem demands that the international conservation community step up its efforts,” said MacArthur President Jonathan Fanton said in remarks at the World Conservation Congress in Barcelona. “It is clear that for conservation to succeed in the face of climate change there must be shared science, coordinated action, and the capacity for rapid response, backed up with increased financial resources.”

Over the next five years, the MacArthur money will be used to support efforts to adapt ecosystems to climate change. 

Equator Prizes

Meanwhile, the 2008 Equator Prize Awards went to a list of places that could also make the map for an adventurer’s next voyage. 

The winners include a group of Quichua indigenous families in northern Equador who are working to protect the area’s agricultural biodiversity and reintroduce traditional crops and medicinal plants. 

Groups working in Indonesia, Peru, Sri Lanka and Ghana also won Equator Prizes. 

The awards honor communities that have shown leadership in protecting biodiversity from climate change.  A partnership of civil groups and governments led by the United Nations administers the prizes to encourage biodiversity conservation.

Science

And, finally, a new study that was reported in the journal Science blasts the myth that only polar bears would be impacted by a changing climate.  The study, which analyzed the geographical ranges of 2000 species of plants and insects in Costa Rica, found an increase in temperature of 3.2 C would threaten more than 50 percent of the species. 

With changes in temperature, many species would move up to higher latitudes, leaving lowlands without inhabitants.  And species that already live at the higher latitudes will have nowhere to seek cooler temperatures.  

The study provides information about how climate change could impact species biodiversity in the tropics, about which little is known.  

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