What sorts of climate-related and compound stresses are various wild ecosystems encountering? What impact are these stresses having on these various ecosystems? How might one characterize the resilience, or lack thereof, of these ecosystems to these stresses. For those with the capacity to do so, how are ecosystems adapting to changes brought about by climate change and other stresses such as development? What is happening to those ecosystems that are showing signs of being incapable of either adapting in place or moving elsewhere? How do the rates of climate change and other stresses affect the odds that certain ecosystems will adjust and ultimately, survive? Are there ecosystems that now require, or will require, special human interventions in order to prevent their collapse and/or demise? What would these interventions look like and are they governed by existing national policy?
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Friday, October 10, 2008
New Time - 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Russell Senate Office Building, Room 253
Dr. Anthony Socci, Senior Science Fellow, American Meteorological Society
Dr. Camille Parmesan, Associate Professor, Integrative Biology, University of Texas, Austin, TX
Observed changes in natural systems, largely over the past century, indicate a clear global climate change signal. Even in the face of apparently dominating forces, such as direct, human-driven habitat destruction and alteration, this climate fingerprint implicates global climate change as a new and important driving force on wild plants and animals. Patterns across taxonomic groups are remarkably similar. Large poleward and upward range shifts associated with recent global climate change have been documented in a diversity of species. Likewise, significant trends towards earlier spring events have been documented in plants and animals across North America, Europe and Asia. These changes in species’ distributions and timing have been linked with regional climate warming for many species based on basic research and on long-term historical records. Our recent estimate is that about half of all wild species have responded to regional warming trends of 1-3° C over the past century, with strongest responses over the past 30 years.
In the Third Assessment Report of IPCC (2001), we predicted that species restricted to extreme environments, such as mountaintops, the Arctic and Antarctic, would be most sensitive to small levels of warming and, indeed, these areas are showing the first signs of species declines and extinctions. Range-restricted species, particularly polar and mountaintop species, are showing severe range contractions in response to recent climate change. Tropical coral reefs and sea ice specialists have been most negatively affected, with indications that cloud forest amphibians are also highly vulnerable. New analyses indicate large differences in magnitude of spring advancement between major taxonomic groups, suggesting that normal interactions among species, such as flowers and the insects that pollinate them may become disrupted. Evolutionary adaptations to warmer conditions have occurred at the local, population level, but observed genetic shifts are limited. There is no indication that novel traits are appearing that would allow species to exist under more extreme climatic conditions than they currently live in.
These changes have already occurred in response to a global average warming of just 0.7° C. Projected changes range from another 1° C (more than double what has already occurred) up to an additional 6+° C. The large-scale responses already documented, and apparent lack of adaptive capacity at the species level, has major ramifications for conservation policy. One of the main conservation concerns is that, as climate zones shift across the landscape, our current preserve network will no longer contain appropriate climates for the species for which those preserves were designed. Further, human domination of the landscape creates barriers to natural movements of species towards new geographic areas which have only recently become climatically suitable. If species within preserves (or other undisturbed habitats) experience degradation of their local climate, their natural dispersal abilities may be insufficient to allow them to cross agricultural lands and urban areas to successfully colonize newly formed habitats outside their current range. In these situations, it has been suggested that human-assisted translocation of individuals, often termed “assisted migration” or “assisted colonization”, may be necessary to ensure colonization of new geographic regions as parts, or all, of the historical species’ range becomes climatically unsuitable.
Dr. Camille Parmesan received her Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from the University of Texas at Austin in 1995. She then took a post-doctoral fellowship at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis in Santa Barbara, California. She is currently an Associate Professor in Integrative Biology at the University of Texas at Austin.
Dr. Parmesan’s early research spanned multiple aspects of the behavior, ecology and evolution of insect/plant interactions in natural systems. Since 1992, however, the focus of her work has been on biological impacts of anthropogenic climate change in natural systems. Her field work has focused on documenting continental-scale range shifts of butterfly species across both North America and Europe. Her more recent research has concentrated on global-scale syntheses of biological responses to climate change across all taxonomic groups. These syntheses have documented the global nature of climate change impacts, spanning all living organisms from microbes to charismatic animals in terrestrial, freshwater and marine systems.
The intensification of global warming as an international issue led Dr. Parmesan into the interface of policy and science. She has given presentations for White House and Congressional representatives, has been involved in several U.S. and international assessments of climate change impacts, and has provided formal testimonies for the US House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, as well as the Texas Senate Natural Resources Committee. She has also been active in climate change programs for many international conservation organizations, such as IUCN (the International Union for the Conservation of Nature), the WWF (World Wildlife Fund), and the National Wildlife Federation, and served on the Science Council of the Nature Conservancy. She was a Lead Author and Contributing author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Third Assessment Report (2001), as well as Reviewer and Co-author of the Uncertainty Guidance Report for the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (2007). IPCC and its participants were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.
Dr. Parmesan has received several awards of distinction for her work in climate change and conservation: the National Wildlife Federation’s Conservation Achievement Award in Science; named as "Outstanding Woman Working on Climate Change," by IUCN; and named as “Who’s Who of Women and the Environment” by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in honor of “International Women’s Day” (2007). Her work has been highlighted in hundreds of scientific and popular press articles, such as in Science News, the New York Times, the London Times, National Geographic, Audubon Magazine, National Public Radio, the BBC film series "State of the Planet" with David Attenborough, CBS Evening News, ABC Nightline with Peter Jennings, and ABC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw.
This seminar series is open to the public and does not require a reservation. To bypass the registration table on the day of the seminar, please use the online form. This ensures you will receive future email notifications for our seminars.
This seminar series is open to the public and does not require a reservation.
The Next Seminar is tentatively scheduled for November 7, 2008.
Topic: A Closer Look at Engineering/Technological Measures to
Stave Off a Worsening Climate: Injecting Particles into the Atmosphere and Clean Coal
Please see our web site for seminar summaries, presentations and future events: http://www.ametsoc.org/seminar
For more information please contact:
Anthony D. Socci, Ph.D. Tel. (202) 737-9006, ext. 412
Jan Wilkerson Tel. (202) 737-9006, ext. 436