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Biodiversity under climate change: biogeography, prospects and conservation opportunities

Wheatley, Christopher John (2018) Biodiversity under climate change: biogeography, prospects and conservation opportunities. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Global climate change is one of the largest threats faced by biodiversity globally, with a wide range of impacts already observed and greater impacts projected to occur by the end of this century. Early identification of which species are most threatened by climate change is crucial to ensuring conservation action can be taken to prevent species losses. In this thesis I analyse the performance of a wide range of methodologies used to assess the risk to individual species from climate change, finding overall poor agreement between the different methods and validation using historic data sources demonstrated few were good predictors of climate change risk. A comprehensive trend-based climate change vulnerability assessment for European birds and butterflies was carried out, using the best performing methodology identified in this thesis. Differing patterns of climate change risk were identified for the two taxonomic groups, with a mix of risk and opportunities for birds but an overall substantially higher level of risk for butterflies. A large proportion of the species categorised as high climate risk are not of conservation concern currently and may be important targets for conservation intervention in the near future. Finally, a spatial prioritisation analysis for Europe identified where geographically the most important areas for conservation are located, and how the distribution of highest priority areas may change in the future. An examination of how the spatial scale at which conservation prioritisation is performed at can influence the effectiveness of the process found the currently used national scale approach within Europe is significantly less effective than either a full continental scale or a rescaled continental approach. Comparisons of these spatial prioritisations with the European protected area network show that under climate change existing sites are likely to become increasingly important in preventing the loss of species across the continent.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Related URLs:
Academic Units: The University of York > Biology (York)
Depositing User: Mr Christopher Wheatley
Date Deposited: 03 Dec 2018 15:55
Last Modified: 03 Dec 2018 15:55
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/22014

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