The pace of change is set to outstrip loss to vertebrate communities caused by land use for agriculture and settlements, which is estimated to have already caused losses of over ten per cent of biodiversity from ecological communities.
Previous studies have suggested that ecosystem function is substantially impaired where more than 20 per cent of species are lost; this is estimated to have occurred across over a quarter of the world’s surface, rising to nearly two thirds when roads are taken into account.
The new study, published today in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, shows that the effects of climate change on ecological communities are predicted to match or exceed land use in its effects on vertebrate community diversity by 2070.
The findings suggest that efforts to minimise human impact on global biodiversity should now take both land use and climate change into account instead of just focusing on one over the other, as the combined effects are expected to have significant negative effects on the global ecosystem.
Source: Climate change to overtake land use as major threat to global biodiversity