Global Warming: Can Existing Reserves Really Preserve Current Levels of Biological Diversity?

Authors

  • Mai-He Li,

    Corresponding author
    1. Division of Forest Ecosystems and Ecological Risks, Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL, Zuercherstrasse 111, CH-8903 Birmensdorf, Switzerland
    2. Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Ministry of Water Conservancy, Chengdu 610041, China
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  • Norbert Kräuchi,

    1. Division of Forest Ecosystems and Ecological Risks, Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL, Zuercherstrasse 111, CH-8903 Birmensdorf, Switzerland
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  • Su-Ping Gao

    1. College of Forestry and Horticulture, Sichuan Agricultural University, Yaan 625014, China
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  • Supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (30540039) and the Programme of Chengdu Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment (Y105033).

* Author for correspondence. Tel: +41 44 739 2491; Fax: +41 44 739 2215; E-mail: <maihe.li@wsl.ch>

Abstract

Paleoecological evidence and paleoclimatic records indicate that there was a plant poleward migration in latitude and an upward shift in elevation with increased temperatures after the last glaciation. Recent studies have shown that global warming over the past 100 years has been having a noticeable effect on living systems. Current global warming is causing a poleward and upward shift in the range of many plants and animals. Climate change, in connection with other global changes, is threatening the survival of a wide range of plant and animal species. This raises the question: can existing reserves really preserve current levels of biological diversity in the long term given the present rapid pace of climate change? The present paper deals with this question in the context of the responses of plants and animals to global climate change, based on a literature review. Consequently, we recommend expanding reserves towards the poles and/or towards higher altitudes, to permit species to shift their ranges to keep pace with global warming.

(Managing editor: Ya-Qin Han)

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