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Ecological principles underpin a national approach to biodiversity conservation under climate change in Australia

Werner, Patricia A., Steffen, Will, Burbidge, Andrew M., Hughes, Lesley, Kitching, Roger L., Lindenmayer, David B., Musgrave, Warren and Stafford Smith, Mark (2009). Ecological principles underpin a national approach to biodiversity conservation under climate change in Australia. In: Ecological Society of America (ESA) 94th Annual Meeting, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 2-7 August 2009.

Document type: Conference Paper
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Author Werner, Patricia A.
Steffen, Will
Burbidge, Andrew M.
Hughes, Lesley
Kitching, Roger L.
Lindenmayer, David B.
Musgrave, Warren
Stafford Smith, Mark
Title Ecological principles underpin a national approach to biodiversity conservation under climate change in Australia
Conference Name Ecological Society of America (ESA) 94th Annual Meeting
Conference Location Albuquerque, New Mexico
Conference Dates 2-7 August 2009
Place of Publication United States of America
Publisher ESA - Ecological Society of America
Publication Year 2009
HERDC Category E3 - Conference Publication - Extract of paper (internal)
Abstract Background/Question/Methods Climate change acts as a new and complex stressor on all levels of biodiversity from genes to biomes, interacting with a large number of historical and existing stressors. We have conducted an assessment of the vulnerability of Australia’s biodiversity to climate change that includes consideration of the Australian environment and evolutionary history, current status and trends, as well as several adaptation tools and approaches that are broadly applicable in most parts of the world to biodiversity conservation under a changing climate.
The assessment is grounded in fundamental ecological principles relating to responses to environmental change rather than on climate scenario-driven impact studies on individual species, given the high degree of uncertainty surrounding specific climate scenarios and the lack of research on the indirect effects at the community and ecosystem levels. Concepts such as resilience and transformation provide positive, pro-active avenues for reducing the vulnerability of biodiversity to climate change. The emphasis is on making space and opportunities for species to adapt and for communities and ecosystems to reorganize, as well as on the maintenance of fundamental ecological processes that underpin vital ecosystem services.

Results/Conclusions In practice, this requires a more systematic regional approach to biodiversity conservation that can build on existing and projected socio-economic trends characteristic of particular regions as a platform for improving biodiversity outcomes. More generally, integrated responses in terms of governance, education, investment sources and action plans for biodiversity conservation can be tailored to the demographic and land-use trajectories of specific regions. We note that climate mitigation remains vitally important, as without early, vigorous and ongoing mitigation measures there is a high probability of more severe climate change and the associated risk of unavoidable, much higher rates of biodiversity loss in the coming decades and centuries, which will undermine even the most effective adaptation measures.
Additional Notes PS 78-26
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Created: Thu, 18 Mar 2010, 21:42:48 CST by Sarena Wegener