Global warming increases the risk of an extinction domino effect

  • Co-extinctions (the disappearance of consumers following the depletion of their resources) could be a major culprit in the ongoing biodiversity crisis.
  • Global warming predictions that fail to take into account this cascading effect might underestimate extinctions by up to 10 times.

European Commission Joint Research Centre

The complex network of interdependencies between plants and animals multiplies the species at risk of extinction due to environmental change, according to a new study.

….As an obvious, direct consequence of climate change, plants and animals living in a given area are driven to extinction when the local environmental conditions become incompatible with their tolerance limits, just like fish in an aquarium with a broken thermostat. However, there are many elusive drivers of species loss that go beyond the direct effects of environmental change (and human activity) which we still struggle to understand.

In particular, it is becoming clearer that co-extinctions (the disappearance of consumers following the depletion of their resources) could be a major culprit in the ongoing biodiversity crisis….

Giovanni Strona, Corey J. A. Bradshaw. Co-extinctions annihilate planetary life during extreme environmental change. Scientific Reports, 2018; 8 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-35068-1

AND RELATED PUBLICATION FROM CAL ACADEMY:

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Peter D. Roopnarine, K.D. Angielczyk, A. Weik, A. Dineen. Ecological persistence, incumbency and reorganization in the Karoo Basin during the Permian-Triassic transition. Earth-Science Reviews, 2018; DOI: 10.1016/j.earscirev.2018.10.014