The effects of climate change and land-use change on demographic rates and population viability

Katherine Selwood, Melodie McGeoch, Ralph Charles Mac Nally

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

78 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Understanding the processes that lead to species extinctions is vital for lessening pressures on biodiversity. While species diversity, presence and abundance are most commonly used to measure the effects of human pressures, demographic responses give a more proximal indication of how pressures affect population viability and contribute to extinction risk. We reviewed how demographic rates are affected by the major anthropogenic pressures, changed landscape condition caused by human land use, and climate change. We synthesized the results of 147 empirical studies to compare the relative effect size of climate and landscape condition on birth, death, immigration and emigration rates in plant and animal populations. While changed landscape condition is recognized as the major driver of species declines and losses worldwide, we found that, on average, climate variables had equally strong effects on demographic rates in plant and animal populations. This is significant given that the pressures of climate change will continue to intensify in coming decades. The effects of climate change on some populations may be underestimated because changes in climate conditions during critical windows of species life cycles may have disproportionate effects on demographic rates. The combined pressures of land-use change and climate change may result in species declines and extinctions occurring faster than otherwise predicted, particularly if their effects are multiplicative.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)837-853
Number of pages17
JournalBiological Reviews
Volume90
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2015

Keywords

  • climate variation
  • extinction risk
  • extirpation
  • emigration
  • immigration
  • land-use intensification
  • landscape condition
  • mortality
  • natality

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