The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 4th Assessment Report (AR4) concluded that climate change will have significant impacts on many aspects of biological diversity: on ecosytems, species, genetic diversity within species, and on ecological interactions. The implications of these impacts are significant for the long-term stability of the natural world and for the many benefits and services that humans derive from it.
This report reviews the literature since the AR4. It draws on recent research to summarise advances in our understanding of the impacts of climate change on biodiversity.
The evidence for the impacts on biodiversity comes from three principal sources. First, from direct observation of changes in components of biodiversity in nature that can be clearly related to changes in climatic variables. Second, experimental studies using manipulations to eluciadate responses to climate change. Finally, and most widely, from modelling studies where our current understanding of the requirements and constraints on the distribution of species and ecosystems are combined with modelled changes in climatic variables to project the impacts of climate change and predict future distributions and changes in populations.