Genetic diversity provides the basic substrate for evolution, yet few studies assess the impacts of global climate change (GCC) on intraspecific genetic variation. In this review, we highlight the importance of incorporating neutral and non-neutral genetic diversity when assessing the impacts of GCC, for example, in studies that aim to predict the future distribution and fate of a species or ecological community. Specifically, we address the following questions: Why study the effects of GCC on intraspecific genetic diversity? How does GCC affect genetic diversity? How is the effect of GCC on genetic diversity currently studied? Where is potential for future research? For each of these questions, we provide a general background and highlight case studies across the animal, plant and microbial kingdoms. We further discuss how cryptic diversity can affect GCC assessments, how genetic diversity can be integrated into studies that aim to predict species' responses on GCC and how conservation efforts related to GCC can incorporate and profit from inclusion of genetic diversity assessments. We argue that studying the fate of intraspecifc genetic diversity is an indispensable and logical venture if we are to fully understand the consequences of GCC on biodiversity on all levels.
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