finding 8.3 : animal-and-plant-mix-changing

Landscapes and seascapes are changing rapidly, and species, including many iconic species, may disappear from regions where they have been prevalent or become extinct, altering some regions so much that their mix of plant and animal life will become almost unrecognizable.



This finding is from chapter 8 of Climate Change Impacts in the United States: The Third National Climate Assessment.

Process for developing key messages: The key messages and supporting chapter text summarize extensive evidence documented in the Ecosystems Technical Input Report, Impacts of Climate Change on Biodiversity, Ecosystems, and Ecosystem Services: Technical Input to the 2013 National Climate Assessment.7406884d-2302-4644-aa50-12ed8baf4fd7 This foundational report evolved from a technical workshop held at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation in Palo Alto, CA, in January 2012 and attended by approximately 65 scientists. Technical inputs (127) on a wide range of topics related to ecosystems were also received and reviewed as part of the Federal Register Notice solicitation for public input.

Description of evidence base: The analysis for the Technical Input Report applied a range of future climate scenarios and projected biome changes across 5% to about 20% of the land area in the U.S. by 2100.7406884d-2302-4644-aa50-12ed8baf4fd7 Other analyses support these projections.e4bf166b-d71c-4560-8d55-84fa64a247af 996a0410-30cf-4076-8ac1-db1fdf519445 37982de0-0e01-476f-b522-b8162d709134 d1806c0e-86c7-4fae-bec5-7f63677976e1 Studies predict that wildfire will be a major driver of change in some areas, including Yellowstone National Parkb95e9226-076c-4eb5-9367-472499624084 and the Arctic.b0873f6b-e2d0-47e5-8eeb-0f71e5af7f04 These biome shifts will be associated with changes in species distributions.c849fdf7-2cee-4145-ac55-467df10a93b8 Evidence indicates that the most obvious changes will occur at the boundaries between ecosystems.dd45f904-52cb-41d0-940e-736bc89803e0 1e858aef-46f6-48bf-8b72-6d5c644f3551 74fe6007-5978-45e5-979f-00196e802167 6d5d70b8-20b7-46ba-a2e9-d7e823968d0f 542f984c-bcf8-491a-8c37-01704d51b3c6 e353701d-b2bf-4ddd-af78-6bced072e963 4460e4d4-aeeb-486f-98b3-2351ed9716ab 3ce6e5b7-f100-4297-afb8-406dc87acf9d Plants and animals are already moving to higher elevations and latitudes in response to climate change,c849fdf7-2cee-4145-ac55-467df10a93b8 with models projecting greater range shifts38a94887-f469-4fce-8feb-75fc8e55568e acb5b618-25b4-40f9-9a11-354a5da90328 and local extinctions in the future, leading to new plant and animal communities that may be unrecognizable in some regions.7406884d-2302-4644-aa50-12ed8baf4fd7 a34935d6-874d-4cef-ab70-e5d1e3d7e8ca 7976d36f-4e34-4077-8a89-709b1405c107 acb5b618-25b4-40f9-9a11-354a5da90328 One study on fish38a94887-f469-4fce-8feb-75fc8e55568e used general circulation models (GCMs) simulating conditions in the 2040s and 2080s under the A1B emissions scenario, with the choice of models reflecting predictions of high and low climate warming as well as an ensemble of ten models. Their models additionally accounted for biotic interactions. In a second study, a 30-year baseline (1971-2000) and output from two GCMs under the A2 scenario (continued increases in global emissions) were used to develop climate variables that effectively predict present and future species ranges.acb5b618-25b4-40f9-9a11-354a5da90328 Empirical data from the Sonoran Desert (n=39 plots) were used to evaluate species responses to past climate variability. Iconic species: Wildfire is expected to damage and kill iconic desert species, including saguaro cactus.7615a633-6a5a-402f-b15d-4b8614136bac f514fb4d-8c62-40af-a39c-df95cd1543c1 Bark beetle outbreaks, which have been exacerbated by climate change, are damaging extensive areas of temperate and boreal conifer forests that are characteristic of the western United States.0346508c-1b13-4e3e-a95d-33acaac2b2c1

New information and remaining uncertainties: In addition to the Technical Input Report, more than 20 new studies of observed and predicted effects of climate change on biomes and species distribution were incorporated in the assessment. While changes in ecosystem structure and biodiversity, including the distribution of iconic species, are occurring and are highly likely to continue, the impact of these changes on ecosystem services is unclear, that is, there is uncertainty about the impact that loss of familiar landscapes will have on people.

Assessment of confidence based on evidence: Based on the evidence base and uncertainties, confidence is high that familiar landscapes are changing so rapidly that iconic species may disappear from regions where they have been prevalent, altering some regions so much that their mix of plant and animal life will become almost unrecognizable. Many changes in species distribution have already occurred and will inevitably continue, resulting in the loss of familiar landscapes and the production of novel species assemblages.

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