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Climate change endangers South American biodiversity

January 7, 2013


Latin American holds the coveted title of being the most biodiverse continent with Amazon rainforests containing a major proportion of the Earth’s species. But right across the region ecosystems are being plundered and biodiversity is being lost at an alarming rate due to increasing anthropogenic impact of humans on the environment.

Most people would assume that deforestation and unsustainable exploitation are the only primary threats due to which rainforests and biodiversity of South America is being lost but scientists are just beginning to know the impacts of climate change that is emerging as a major threat in ultimately wiping out 40% of the biodiversity of some Latin American nations by 2100. There is an ever increasing awareness of the diversity and magnitude of the responses by South American people whose lives and livelihoods are altered by climate change.

Amazon-rainforestOne of the lowest emitters of greenhouse gases, could bear one of the heaviest costs of climate change. Impacts of climate change in the Latin America are felt across the region and include potential sea-level rise that threatens coastal habitats and human settlements; huge movement of populations and the loss of land; increased sea surface temperatures; melting of tropical glaciers and snowcaps; warming, and drying out, of moorlands and other high altitude ecosystems in the Andes; higher frequency and distribution of forest fires; the spread of tropical disease vectors into the Andes piedmont; changes in agricultural productivity; and impacts on coastal and watershed ecosystems.

These changes will have major impacts on the region’s rich biodiversity as well as on human health and livelihoods. In this age of Anthropocene, Latin American countries must join hands to combat climate change and developed countries must aid the region’s efforts of adaptation and mitigation from climate change and increase technological and financial support required for solving the climate crisis.

 Drought and changing weather patterns will lead to complete lose of Amazonian rain forest and  One in ten known species in the world

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Research has clearly indicated that the persisting drought in Amazon rainforest is primarily influenced by human induced climate change suggesting that the most biodiverse rich region on earth is being degraded at a large scale that would eventually result in a massive wave of biodiversity extinction and could cause a substantial deterioration of the Amazonian ecosystem from close canopy rainforest to a more open woodlands and savanna if the current trends continue. This shift could contribute to a massive wave of extinction across the Amazonian rainforest. Conservationist and law makers must formulate plans to protect amazon not only from deforestation but also to save it from the impacts of climate change.

Glaciers, habitats and species vanishing because of climatic changes in the biodiverse hotspots of Andes

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Tropical Andes which harbors an extraordinary biological and cultural diversity, contained in a mosaic of ecosystems. Recently, the range of natural climatic variability in the tropical Andes has started to exceed historically documented thresholds and major changes are predicted for Andean ecosystems, based inpart on their island-like distribution and highly endemic biota. Already high profile extinction cases of amphibians (e.g., members of genus Atelopus) from Ecuador and Peru has been blamed on climate change. Many endemic birds, plants and amphibians species of Andeans are also exposed to the risks of climate change. If current scenarios persist lives and livelihoods of millions of people are vulnerable across the Andean ecosystems and much of the biodiversity would face considerable loss.

 Biodiversity of the Atlantic rain forest remnants vulnerable to changing climate

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Atlantic forest is one of the most diverse and biologically rich forests in the world, but also one of the most highly threatened, with only around eight percent of its original cover remaining. Also known as the Atlantic rainforest or Mata Atlântica, climate change poses a new threat to the remnants of this biodiversity hotspot. Studies have clearly indicated that fauna and flora many are endemic and typical of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest may completely disappear from their remnant forest refuges if the such drastic patterns of changing climate continue making reforestation and connectivity of remnant rainforest aiding migration and dispersal vulnerable taxa. Long term conservation measures to save of one of ne of the most highly threatened and biologically rich hotspot requires conservationist to emphasis on mitigating and adapting effects of climate change on the regions ecosystem and biodiversity.

Evolution of species being impacted by the effects of human induced El Nino on the Galapagos islands

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The Islands of Galapagos made famous by Charles Darwin form where he learned the concepts of evolution and a world heritage site is a popular destination for tourists coming to see its unique and endemic biodiversity. But the effects of climate change is being felt on this distant islands as past strong El Niño years, the populations of some of the islands’ most iconic species —including marine iguanas, sea lions, and penguins— experienced a decline of 50 percent or more. Current scenarios persists the future Galápagos climate will bring similar but prolonged and more intense conditions of those caused by El Niño events by the end of the century. Well known causes of extinction of at least 2 probable extinctions (marine algae Bifurcia galapagensis and damselfish Azurina eupalama), six possible extinctions of marine algae, and the sea star Heliaster solaris have been recorded. In addition to that many species endemic to Galapagos Islands are susceptible to decline driven by climate change e.g Scalesia pedunculata, Floreana coral (Tubastraea floreana) and Mangrove finch (Camarhynchus heliobates). Conservationist must focus on addressing the vulnerability of the Galápagos biodiversity to climate change and climate adaptation must be implemented to halt the serious and irreversible consequences on the ecosystems and the services they provide.

It is possible to combat climate change 

It is possible to mitigate worldwide emissions at a reasonable cost by implementation of multiple strategies involving a range of technologies and sustainable prac­tices such as energy efficiency, incentives for renewable energies, biofuels, taxes on fossil fuels, urban planning and best practices in agriculture and forestry. Biodiversity across the world is vulnerable to climate change and research from South America clearly indicated that some of the world’s richest hotspots of biodiversity require a holistic approach of tackling climate change and its consequences on the fragile ecosystems and vulnerable biodiversity that would threaten livelihoods and endanger the critical life support systems on of millions of South American people depend upon .

Many Species featured in “natureology101″ blog’s “Species of the Day” from previous week are endangered species that probably are threatened by climate change in South America:

1-  #Natureology Species of the Day – Golden headed lion tamarin (Leontopithecus chrysomelus)

2- #Natureology Species of the Day – Marvellous spatuletail (Loddigesia mirabilis)

3- #Natureology Species of the Day – Proboscis anole (anolis proboscis)

4 #Natureology Species of the Day  Darwin’s frog (Rhinoderma darwinii)

5- #Natureology Species of the Day – Simpsonicthys (Simpsonichtys picturatus)

6- #Natureology Species of the Day – Galapagos land snail (Bulimulus nux)

7- #Natureology Species of the Day – (Aspidosperma polyneuron)


2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 7, 2013 2:31 am

    Reblogged this on Our Endangered Planet and it's Wildlife..


  2. January 12, 2013 12:15 pm

    Thanks for the likes do like my FB Page


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