Impact of Climate Change on Biodiversity
The implications of climate change for biodiversity conservation (Lovejoy, 2006) are central to management strategies used in conservation of plant diversity. The importance of plant biodiversity to ecosystem functioning and as a resource for human food, feed, fibre and energy has been well illustrated in preceding chapters. The general acceptance of climate change as a major issue facing human societies was outlined in Chapter 3. Climate change is likely to accelerate the rate of species extinction in the immediate future (next few decades). Rapid climate change has resulted in loss of species diversity in the past. Many species are not able to adapt rapidly enough to environmental changes and will be lost. Estimates of the likely rate of species loss in the immediate future due to climate change vary widely. However, it is likely that the current high rates of species loss due to human removal of habitat are likely to increase with climate change. Very high levels of extinction of plants and animals are predicted by many models (Thomas et al, 2004). Food security long term may be threatened by loss of populations of wild relatives of crop species due to climate change. This will reduce options to continue to adapt crops to new climatic conditions.