Future Environmental Change (future + environmental_change)

Distribution by Scientific Domains

Selected Abstracts

Seed supply for broadscale restoration: maximizing evolutionary potential

Linda M. Broadhurst
Abstract Restoring degraded land to combat environmental degradation requires the collection of vast quantities of germplasm (seed). Sourcing this material raises questions related to provenance selection, seed quality and harvest sustainability. Restoration guidelines strongly recommend using local sources to maximize local adaptation and prevent outbreeding depression, but in highly modified landscapes this restricts collection to small remnants where limited, poor quality seed is available, and where harvesting impacts may be high. We review three principles guiding the sourcing of restoration germplasm: (i) the appropriateness of using ,local' seed, (ii) sample sizes and population characteristics required to capture sufficient genetic diversity to establish self-sustaining populations and (iii) the impact of over-harvesting source populations. We review these topics by examining current collection guidelines and the evidence supporting these, then we consider if the guidelines can be improved and the consequences of not doing so. We find that the emphasis on local seed sourcing will, in many cases, lead to poor restoration outcomes, particularly at broad geographic scales. We suggest that seed sourcing should concentrate less on local collection and more on capturing high quality and genetically diverse seed to maximize the adaptive potential of restoration efforts to current and future environmental change. [source]

An Island of Green in the Sunburnt Country: The Rainforest of the Humid Tropics of Northeastern Australia and Their Response to Quaternary Environmental Change

Patrick T. Moss
The Humid Tropics of northeastern Australia is a region of exceptional diversity and productivity that reflects many of the characteristics of similar tropical biomes. In the Australian context, it is a unique environment being a virtual ,island of green' surrounded by the more typical sclerophyll (i.e. dry and fire prone) landscapes of Australia. This article will examine the modern ecological characteristics of the region, as well as providing historical context by discussing the response of the humid tropics communities to Quaternary environmental upheavals and the possible implications that these alterations have for understanding ecosystem response to future environmental change. [source]

Importance of changing CO2, temperature, precipitation, and ozone on carbon and water cycles of an upland-oak forest: incorporating experimental results into model simulations

Paul J. Hanson
Abstract Observed responses of upland-oak vegetation of the eastern deciduous hardwood forest to changing CO2, temperature, precipitation and tropospheric ozone (O3) were derived from field studies and interpreted with a stand-level model for an 11-year range of environmental variation upon which scenarios of future environmental change were imposed. Scenarios for the year 2100 included elevated [CO2] and [O3] (+385 ppm and +20 ppb, respectively), warming (+4C), and increased winter precipitation (+20% November,March). Simulations were run with and without adjustments for experimentally observed physiological and biomass adjustments. Initial simplistic model runs for single-factor changes in CO2 and temperature predicted substantial increases (+191% or 508 g C m,2 yr,1) or decreases (,206% or ,549 g C m,2 yr,1), respectively, in mean annual net ecosystem carbon exchange (NEEa,26623 g C m,2 yr,1 from 1993 to 2003). Conversely, single-factor changes in precipitation or O3 had comparatively small effects on NEEa (0% and ,35%, respectively). The combined influence of all four environmental changes yielded a 29% reduction in mean annual NEEa. These results suggested that future CO2 -induced enhancements of gross photosynthesis would be largely offset by temperature-induced increases in respiration, exacerbation of water deficits, and O3 -induced reductions in photosynthesis. However, when experimentally observed physiological adjustments were included in the simulations (e.g. acclimation of leaf respiration to warming), the combined influence of the year 2100 scenario resulted in a 20% increase in NEEa not a decrease. Consistent with the annual model's predictions, simulations with a forest succession model run for gradually changing conditions from 2000 to 2100 indicated an 11% increase in stand wood biomass in the future compared with current conditions. These model-based analyses identify critical areas of uncertainty for multivariate predictions of future ecosystem response, and underscore the importance of long term field experiments for the evaluation of acclimation and growth under complex environmental scenarios. [source]

Contrasting response of native and alien plant species richness to environmental energy and human impact along alpine elevation gradients

GLOBAL ECOLOGY, Issue 6 2009
Lorenzo Marini
ABSTRACT Aim, We tested whether the species,energy and species,human relationships vary between native and both naturalized and casual alien species richness when other environmental variables had been taken into account. Location, Trento Province, a region (c. 6200 km2) on the southern border of the European Alps (Italy), subdivided into 156 contiguous (c. 37.5 km2) cells and ranging in elevation from 66 to 3769 m. Methods, Data were separated into three subsets, representing richness of natives, naturalized aliens and casual aliens and separately related to temperature, human population and various environmental correlates of plant species diversity. We applied ordinary least squares and simultaneous autoregressive regressions to identify potential contrasting responses of the three plant status subsets and hierarchical partitioning to evaluate the relative importance of the predictor variables. Results, Variation in alien plant species richness along the region was almost entirely explained by temperature and human population density. The relationships were positive but strongly curvilinear. Native species richness was less strongly related to either factor but was positively related to the presence of calcareous bedrock. Native species richness had a decelerating positive relationship with temperature (R2= 55%), whereas naturalized and casual aliens had a positive accelerating relationship explaining 86% and 62% of the variation in richness, respectively. Native species richness had a positive decelerating relationship with population density (R2= 42%), whilst both alien subsets had a positive accelerating relationship. Main conclusions, Alien species richness was higher in areas with the most rich and diverse assemblages of native species. Areas at high altitudes are not especially prone to alien invasion due to energy constraints, low propagule pressure and disturbance, even considering a potential increased in temperature. Thus, if we consider future environmental change, we should expect a stronger response of aliens than natives in the currently warm, urbanized, low-altitude areas than in cold, high-altitude areas where human population density is low. [source]

Assessing the impact of deforestation and climate change on the range size and environmental niche of bird species in the Atlantic forests, Brazil

Bette A. Loiselle
Abstract Aim, Habitat loss and climate change are two major drivers of biological diversity. Here we quantify how deforestation has already changed, and how future climate scenarios may change, environmental conditions within the highly disturbed Atlantic forests of Brazil. We also examine how environmental conditions have been altered within the range of selected bird species. Location, Atlantic forests of south-eastern Brazil. Methods, The historical distribution of 21 bird species was estimated using Maxent. After superimposing the present-day forest cover, we examined the environmental niches hypothesized to be occupied by these birds pre- and post-deforestation using environmental niche factor analysis (ENFA). ENFA was also used to compare conditions in the entire Atlantic forest ecosystem pre- and post-deforestation. The relative influence of land use and climate change on environmental conditions was examined using analysis of similarity and principal components analysis. Results, Deforestation in the region has resulted in a decrease in suitable habitat of between 78% and 93% for the Atlantic forest birds included here. Further, Atlantic forest birds today experience generally wetter and less seasonal forest environments than they did historically. Models of future environmental conditions within forest remnants suggest generally warmer conditions and lower annual variation in rainfall due to greater precipitation in the driest quarter of the year. We found that deforestation resulted in a greater divergence of environmental conditions within Atlantic forests than that predicted by climate change. Main conclusions, The changes in environmental conditions that have occurred with large-scale deforestation suggest that selective regimes may have shifted and, as a consequence, spatial patterns of intra-specific variation in morphology, behaviour and genes have probably been altered. Although the observed shifts in available environmental conditions resulting from deforestation are greater than those predicted by climate change, the latter will result in novel environments that exceed temperatures in any present-day climates and may lead to biotic attrition unless organisms can adapt to these warmer conditions. Conserving intra-specific diversity over the long term will require considering both how changes in the recent past have influenced contemporary populations and the impact of future environmental change. [source]

Habitat fragmentation and adaptation: a reciprocal replant,transplant experiment among 15 populations of Lychnis flos-cuculi

Gillianne Bowman
Summary 1Habitat fragmentation and variation in habitat quality can both affect plant performance, but their effects have rarely been studied in combination. We thus examined plant performance in response to differences in habitat quality for a species subject to habitat fragmentation, the common but declining perennial herb Lychnis flos-cuculi. 2We reciprocally transplanted plants between 15 fen grasslands in north-east Switzerland and recorded plant performance for 4 years. 3Variation between the 15 target sites was the most important factor and affected all measures of plant performance in all years. This demonstrates the importance of plastic responses to habitat quality for plant performance. 4Plants from smaller populations produced fewer rosettes than plants from larger populations in the first year of the replant,transplant experiment. 5Plant performance decreased with increasing ecological difference between grassland of origin and target grassland, indicating adaptation to ecological conditions. In contrast, plant performance was not influenced by microsatellite distance and hardly by geographic distance between grassland of origin and target grassland. 6Plants originating from larger populations were better able to cope with larger ecological differences between transplantation site and site of origin. 7Synthesis: In addition to the direct effects of target grasslands, both habitat fragmentation, through reduced population size, and adaptation to habitats of different quality, contributed to the performance of L. flos-cuculi. This underlines that habitat fragmentation also affects species that are still common. Moreover, it suggests that restoration projects involving L. flos-cuculi should use plant material from large populations living in habitats similar to the restoration site. Finally, our results bring into question whether plants in small habitat remnants will be able to cope with future environmental change. [source]

Vegetation, environment, and time: The origination and termination of ecosystems

Stephen T. Jackson
Abstract Terrestrial ecosystems originate when particular plant species attain dominance at specific locations under specific environmental regimes. Ecosystems terminate, gradually or abruptly, when the dominant species or functional types are replaced by others, usually owing to environmental change or severe and irreversible disturbance. Assessing whether current ecosystems are sustainable in the face of future environmental change can be aided by examining the range of environmental variation those ecosystems have experienced in the past, and by determining the environmental conditions under which those ecosystems arose. The range of environmental variation depends on the time scale at which it is assessed. A narrow time span (e.g. 200,300 years) may underestimate the range of variation within which an ecosystem is sustainable, and it may also underestimate the risk of major transformation or disruption of that ecosystem by environmental change. Longer time spans (e.g. 1000,2000 years) increase the range of variation, by encompassing a larger sample of natural variability as well as non-stationary variability in the earth system. Most modern ecosystems disappear when the time span is expanded to 10000,15 000 years owing to secular changes in earth's climate system. Paleo-ecological records can pinpoint the time of origination of specific ecosystems, and paleo-environmental records can reveal the specific environmental changes that led to development of those ecosystems and the range of environmental variation under which those ecosystems have maintained themselves in the past. This information can help identify critical environmental thresholds beyond which specific modern ecosystems can no longer be sustained. [source]

Introduction to "In Focus: Global Change and Adaptation in Local Places"

Donald R. Nelson
ABSTRACT In recognition of unavoidable changes that human actions are producing in our environment, the term adaptation has become ubiquitous in the environmental and climate-change literature. Human adaptation is a field with a significant history in anthropology, yet anthropological contributions to the burgeoning field of climate change remain limited. This "In Focus" section presents studies of local adaptations to climate variation and change. Each is concerned with current environmental challenges and future environmental change, and each study is placed within a wider context that includes processes of globalization and integration into market economies, formal and informal institutions, and disasters. These studies highlight the challenges involved in understanding complex adaptations under conditions of stress. They also illustrate how anthropologists engage the larger climate-change and human-adaptation discussions and enhance our ability to respond to the challenges of a changing environment. [source]

Double exposure in Mozambique's Limpopo River Basin

This paper examines how double exposure to economic and environmental stressors , and the interaction between the two , affect smallholder farmers in Mozambique's Limpopo River Basin. Studying two case study villages we find that people, in general, are resilient to environmental stressors. However, most households show less resilience to the socioeconomic stressors and shocks that have been introduced or intensified by economic globalisation. Our findings indicate that economic change brought about by structural adjustment policies pressures rural people to alter their approach to farming, which makes it more difficult for them to respond to environmental change. For example, smallholder farmers find it difficult to make a transition to commercial farming within the Limpopo Basin, in part because farming techniques that are well adapted to managing environmental variability in the region , such as seeding many small plots , are not well suited to the economies of scale needed for profitable commercial agriculture. People use a variety of strategies to cope with interactive environmental and economic stressors and shocks, but many face considerable constraints to profitably exploiting market-based opportunities. We conclude that economic stressors and shocks may now be causing small-scale agriculture to be less well adapted to ecological and climate variability, making smallholders more vulnerable to future climate change. Some local level policy interventions, including those that support and build on local environmental knowledge, could assist rural agricultural societies in adapting to future environmental change in the context of economic globalisation. [source]

Modelling potential spawning habitat of sardine (Sardina pilchardus) and anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus) in the Bay of Biscay

Abstract Large amplitude variations in recruitment of small pelagic fish result from interactions between a fluctuating environment and population dynamics processes such as spawning. The spatial extent and location of spawning, which is critical to the fate of eggs and larvae, can vary strongly from year to year, as a result of changing population structure and environmental conditions. Spawning habitat can be divided into ,potential spawning habitat', defined as habitat where the hydrographic conditions are suitable for spawning, ,realized spawning habitat', defined as habitat where spawning actually occurs, and ,successful spawning habitat', defined as habitat from where successful recruitment has resulted. Using biological data collected during the period 2000,2004, as well as hydrographic data, we investigate the role of environmental parameters in controlling the potential spawning habitat of anchovy and sardine in the Bay of Biscay. Anchovy potential spawning habitat appears to be primarily related to bottom temperature followed by surface temperature and mixed-layer depth, whilst surface and bottom salinity appear to play a lesser role. The possible influence of hydrographic factors on the spawning habitat of sardine seems less clear than for anchovy. Modelled relationships between anchovy and sardine spawning are used to predict potential spawning habitat from hydrodynamical simulations. The results show that the seasonal patterns in spawning are well reproduced by the model, indicating that hydrographic changes may explain a large fraction of spawning spatial dynamics. Such models may prove useful in the context of forecasting potential impacts of future environmental changes on sardine and anchovy reproductive strategy in the north-east Atlantic. [source]

Climate change and bet-hedging: interactions between increased soil temperatures and seed bank persistence

Abstract In order to predict the long-term consequences of climate change, it is necessary to link future environmental changes to mechanisms that control plant population processes. This information can then be incorporated into strategies to more accurately model climate change impacts on species or to estimate future extinction risks. We examined the impact of increased temperatures on the longevity and dynamics of the persistent soil seed banks of eight ephemeral species from arid Australia. We found that the predicted global temperature increases under climate change will be reflected in increased soil temperatures, and that seeds in the soil seed bank will be exposed to long durations of high temperatures over the summer months. Three of the eight species studied had significantly greater levels of germination after exposure to predicted increased soil temperatures. Another species displayed a dramatic decrease in seed viability after such exposure. The capacity of such species to use the seed bank to bet hedge against rainfall events that cause germination but are insufficient to allow plant maturation, is compromised by increased germinability and subsequent loss or reduction of seed bank persistence. These predicted changes in the dynamics of soil seed banks increase the risk of local extinctions of these species, while the composition of the community may be altered by changes in species abundance. Our results show that the risk spreading mechanism provided by persistent seed banks could be compromised by the mechanistic impact of forecast temperature increases in arid habitats, and highlight the need to understand mechanisms that control population dynamics when attempting to address likely future impacts of climate change on biodiversity. [source]

The response of two Glomus mycorrhizal fungi and a fine endophyte to elevated atmospheric CO2, soil warming and drought

Philip L. Staddon
Abstract Plantago lanceolata plants were grown under various environmental conditions in association with the mycorrhizal fungi Glomus mosseae, G. caledonium and a fine endophyte either individually or all together. Using a time-course approach, we investigated the effects of elevated atmospheric CO2 (eCO2), soil warming and drought and their interactions on root length colonized (RLC) by mycorrhizal fungi and extraradical mycorrhizal hyphal (EMH) production. Plant growth responded as would be expected to the environmental manipulations. There was no plant growth-independent effect of eCO2 on mycorrhizal colonization; however, EMH production was stimulated by eCO2, i.e. there was increased partitioning of below-ground carbon to the EMH. Soil warming directly stimulated both percent RLC by the Glomus species and EMH density; soil warming did not affect RLC by the fine endophyte. Drought decreased percent RLC for the fine endophyte, but not for the Glomus species. The presence of one mycorrhizal fungus did not affect the response of another to the environmental variables. There was no evidence of any interactive effects of the environmental variables on RLC, but there were significant environmental interactions on EMH production. In particular, the stimulatory effects of eCO2 and soil warming on EMH density were not additive. The results are discussed in terms of the soil carbon cycle, highlighting some crucial gaps in our knowledge. If future environmental changes affect mycorrhizal fungal turnover and respiration, then this could have important implications for the terrestrial carbon cycle. [source]

Geomorphic controls and transition zones in the lower Sabine River

Jonathan D. Phillips
Abstract Instream flow science and management requires identification of characteristic hydrological, ecological, and geomorphological attributes of stream reaches. This study approaches this problem by identifying geomorphic transition zones along the lower Sabine River, Texas and Louisiana. Boundaries were delineated along the lower Sabine River valley based on surficial geology, valley width, valley confinement, network characteristics (divergent versus convergent), sinuousity, slope, paleomeanders, and point bars. The coincidence of multiple boundaries reveals five key transition zones separating six reaches of distinct hydrological and geomorphological characteristics. Geologic controls and gross valley morphology play a major role as geomorphic controls, as does an upstream-to-downstream gradient in the importance of pulsed dam releases, and a down-to-upstream gradient in coastal backwater effects. Geomorphic history, both in the sense of the legacy of Quaternary sea level changes, and the effects of specific events such as avulsions and captures, are also critical. The transition zones delineate reaches with distinct hydrological characteristics in terms of the relative importance of dam releases and coastal backwater effects, single versus multi-channel flow patterns, frequency of overbank flow, and channel-floodplain connectivity. The transitional areas also represent sensitive zones which can be expected to be bellwethers in terms of responses to future environmental changes. Copyright 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. [source]