Climate change and tropical biodiversity: a new focus
Brodie J., Post E., Laurance W.
In this review article, Brodie et al. expose a different approach to looking at the effects of global climate change on tropical biodiversity. An abundant amount of literature does, in fact, address the direct effects of climate change on biodiversity in the tropics. Brodie et al. argue, however, that while these efforts are extremely important and notable for current and future conservation efforts, little attention is devoted to perhaps a no-less considerable factor – how does climate change impact synergistic interactions between humans and tropical environments. In other words, climate change affects the environment, which contributes to a multitude of changes in humans’ interaction with that environment – this interaction change is, in turn, a huge factor to be considered when evaluating topical biodiversity impacts resulting from climate change.
Brodie et al. address several synergistic impacts of climate change, particularly relating to human land use behavior. They present findings indicating that increased temperatures in the tropics may not always be detrimental to biodiversity in the tropics – in fact, sometimes temperature increases are beneficial to biodiversity, such as in the case of the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum event. This is not to say warming temperatures are no reason for concern – quite the contrary still. They argue that special reorganization of species, a coping mechanism utilized during the PETM, today is hampered or even precluded by large-scale forest loss and fragmentation in the tropical ecosystems, i.e. via human intervention. Therefore, warming in and of itself may be dealt with, even successfully, in situations where all other conditions are essentially kept in their natural form. The human element here, in combination with increasing temperatures, is the focal point for potential biodiversity exacerbation.
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