This paper was originally published on American Association for the Advancement of Science


“Climate change is causing geographical redistribution of plant and animal species globally. These distributional shifts are leading to new ecosystems and ecological communities, changes that will affect human society. Pecl et al. review these current and future impacts and assess their implications for sustainable development goals.

The success of human societies depends intimately on the living components of natural and managed systems. Although the geographical range limits of species are dynamic and fluctuate over time, climate change is impelling a universal redistribution of life on Earth. For marine, freshwater, and terrestrial species alike, the first response to changing climate is often a shift in location, to stay within preferred environmental conditions. At the cooler extremes of their distributions, species are moving poleward, whereas range limits are contracting at the warmer range edge, where temperatures are no longer tolerable. On land, species are also moving to cooler, higher elevations; in the ocean, they are moving to colder water at greater depths.

Because different species respond at different rates and to varying degrees, key interactions among species are often disrupted, and new interactions develop. These idiosyncrasies can result in novel biotic communities and rapid changes in ecosystem functioning, with pervasive and sometimes unexpected consequences that propagate through and affect both biological and human communities…”

Read on and access the paper at: American Association for the Advancement of Science