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Global climate change impacts on Pacific Islands terrestrial biodiversity: a review

18 / 08 / 2016, Eldis Biodiversity

The islands of the Pacific region hold three of the 35 global biodiversity hotspots with large numbers of endemic species. Global climate change will exacerbate the challenges faced by the biodiversity of this region . In this review, the authors identify trends in characteristics for 305 terrestrial species threatened by climate change and severe weather according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). We then review the literature on observed and potential impacts of climate change on terrestrial biodive rsity , focusing on the species'€™ characteristics that were identified. High - elevation ecosystems such as cloud montane forests are projected to disappear entirely by the year 2100 , with corresponding global losses of their endemic biodiversity. Sea level ri se threatens restricted range species on small low - lying atolls. Shifts in distribution may be possible for generalist species , but r ange shifts will be difficult for species with small distributions, specialized habitat requirements, slow dispersal rates , and species at high elevations.Accurate assessments of climate change impacts on biodiversity of the region are difficult because of confusion about nomenclature , the many species unknown to science, the lack of baseline data on species'€™ ecology and distributions, and lack of fine resolution elevation data for very small islands. Furthermore, synergistic interactions of climate change with other threats like habitat loss and invasive species have not been comprehensively assessed. Addressing these knowledge gaps will be difficult for Pacific island nations due to limited financial resources and expertise.

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