Extinction from Climate Change

Stan Gorodenski stanlep at extremezone.com
Thu Jul 11 14:13:03 EDT 2002

I have expressed the opinion before (1996), but not on this list, that
what I call the 'museum' approach to species conservation puts all the
eggs in one basket and will not work in the long run because of climate
change due to global warming. By this I refer to the concept of
identifying species hot spots and setting up preserves (whether or not a
species hot spot) with the implied consent to turn everything else into
pavement, houses, human preferred landscaping which usually means plants
that are not endemic to an area and do not support insect populations,
fragmented habitats, etc. Climate change due to global warming, which
appears to be increasingly recognized as being anthropomorphically
caused, will result in the species in these preserves going to
extinction. Because the rate of speciation is considerably slower in an
environment consisting of pavement, houses, and landscaped environments,
evolution of new species will then essentially be restricted to these
preserves. However, the nature of these preserves will probably also
change. Whereas they may now be habitats of lush vegetation, they may
become deserts from climate change.

I just became aware of a documented case of extinction of a butterfly
population due to climate change. I was not able to access the
Preceedings of the National Academy of Sciences to read the whole paper,
but was able to see the abstract which I have copied here:

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, Vol. 99, Issue 9, 6070-6074, April 30, 2002
Climate change hastens population extinctions 

John F. McLaughlin*,,, Jessica J. Hellmann,§, Carol L. Boggs, and Paul

* Department of Environmental Sciences, Huxley College of the
Environment, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA 98225-9181; §
Centre for Biodiversity Research, University of British Columbia, 6270
University Boulevard, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z4; and  Center for
Conservation Biology, Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford
University, Stanford, CA 94305-5020 

Contributed by Paul R. Ehrlich, March 6, 2002 

Climate change is expected to alter the distribution and abundance of
many species. Predictions of climate-induced population extinctions are
supported by geographic range shifts that correspond to climatic
warming, but few xtinctions have been linked mechanistically to climate
change. Here we show that extinctions of two populations of a
checkerspot butterfly were hastened
by increasing variability in precipitation, a phenomenon predicted by
global climate models. We model checkerspot populations to show that
changes in precipitation amplified population fluctuations, leading to
rapid extinctions. As populations of checkerspots and other species
become further isolated by habitat loss, climate change is likely to
cause more extinctions,
threatening both species diversity and critical ecosystem services. 



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