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Conservation & Natural Systems

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  1. Conservation & Natural Systems Matt McGlone Landcare Research Lincoln Climate Change Adaptation Conference Wellington 20 May 2009

  2. With mid-range climate • warming (+1.8-2.0 oC) : • 1 million species at risk • greatest threat in • “many if not most regions” Thomas et al. 2004. Nature 427: 145-148.

  3. “Global warming could wipe out a quarter of all species of animals and plants by 2050” – Reuters, Jan 2004. 15 – 37 % of the groups & species modelled (1,103) may eventually be driven to extinction, if projected global warming scenarios eventuate.

  4. What are the issues for biodiversity? • CO2 • Temperature • Rainfall • Cloudiness • Sea level rise

  5. Individual species effects • CO2plants grow more, use less water • Warmer growing seasons phenology, abundance & range change • Less frosty or frost-free winters ditto • Wetter – little effect; drier – big effects

  6. Community effects • Wholesale shifts in constituent species • Alpine tree line change • Sea level rise: estuaries, sand-dunes • Invasives more aggressive

  7. NZ alpine losses? • 80-90% of “alpine islands” • 200 to 300 alpine plant species (33-50%) • Similar % alpine invertebrates Halloy & Mark 2003. Arctic, Antarctic & Alpine Research 35: 248-254.

  8. Alpine extent 2000 AD 0oC 0 m

  9. Alpine extent 2050 AD +1.5oC 250 m

  10. Alpine extent 2100 AD +3.0oC 500 m

  11. Temperature increase of 1.1oC since 1900 AD Should equal treeline rise of 180 m Measured rise 6 m

  12. Current global treeline status Advancing Not advancing : Melanie Harsch Lincoln University

  13. Mt Cook Temperature Trends

  14. Red Billed Gulls Kaikoura breeding colony

  15. Red billed gulls & IDPO?

  16. Beech forest food cycles

  17. Seed-mice-stoat-bird cycle Last summer for birds

  18. Beech seed & temperature Temperature Seed

  19. pre-1990 post- 1990 Beech seed versus temperature at flower initiation Richardson et al 2005. Ecology

  20. 16 16 20 20 11 11 17 17 11 11 7 7 15 15 5 5 6 6 11 11 1 1 7 7 2 2 1 1 Exotic ants in New Zealand • 27 known • Major pests • Temperature sensitive

  21. Strawberry Guava

  22. Heather beetle

  23. Where we are at now • 70% deforested • 90% wetlands destroyed • >2000 exotic plant spp. Naturalised • 40% of avian fauna extinct • 32 mammal, 34 birds and 19 fish spp. Naturalised • Fire common • Fertiliser over 50% of landscape

  24. Representative trends Ranges have reduced in 38% (25/66) endemic birds Source: NZ Environment 2007; Atlas of Bird Distribution in NZ 1999-2004

  25. What are the major threats to land biodiversity over next 25 years? 1 Pests 2 Weeds 3 New diseases & pathogens 4 Agricultural intensification 5 Draining of wetlands 6 Coastal development 7 Climate change

  26. Major threats to freshwater biodiversity over next 25 years? 1 Hydro 2 Irrigation 3 Exotic spp 4 New diseases & pathogens 5 Pollution 6 Climate change

  27. Major threats to marine biodiversity over next 25 years? 1 Commerical fishing 2 Harbour/estuary reclamation 3 Recreational fishing 4 Marine farming 5 Exotic spp 6 Climate change

  28. Biodiversity loss • unclear issue • poorly understood • patchy, ignorable threat • few low-cost solutions • no clear pathway • unlimited costs • localised risks/burdens • little economic upside • Climate change • clear issue • well understood • universal, credible threat • available cheap solutions • pathway forward • capped costs • distributed risks/burden • economic upside

  29. Some Wellington thoughts… ‘There is no cross-government support for biodiversity….’ ‘If we gave you more money, you’d just go out and name more things….. ‘Why don’t you just model biodiversity – NIWA have done it for climate change’

  30. ‘Looking after New Zealand’s biodiversity is a bottomless pit. – you could spend the health budget. You never have enough money to do the work you’d like to do.’ Al Morrison – Director General DoC March 07 North & South.

  31. “..higher order effects among multiple drivers acting simultaneously create challenges in predicting future responses to global environmental change, and that extrapolating these complex impacts across entire networks of species interactions yields unanticipated effects on ecosystems.” Tylianakis et al. 2008 Ecology Letters 11: 1351

  32. ‘Projections of impacts will be aided by a better mechanistic understanding of ecological, behavioural, and evolutionary responses to complex patterns of climate change, and in particular to impacts of extreme weather and climate events.’ Camille Parmesan: Annual Rev. Evol. Syst. 2006 27: 637-669

  33. Climate risk analysis • Is there a risk to biodiversity? • If so, what can we do? • At what cost? • How does it stack up? Yes Not much High Not well

  34. Final thoughts We are unlikely to get the predictive power to act preemptively on climate change We are unlikely to be funded to do preemptive actions anyway But, what is good for biodiversity short-term will be good in the long-term too, mostly

  35. Grateful for information from:Rod Hay (DOC) Jenny Christie (DOC)Bill Lee (LCR)Sarah Richardson (LCR)Janet Wilmshurst (LCR)Richard Duncan (Lincoln Uni)Phil Hulme (Lincoln Uni)Melanie Harsch (Lincoln Uni)Wendy Ruscoe (LCR)Susan Walker (LCR)John Leathwick (NIWA)Theo Stephens (DOC)James Barringer (LCR)