Modelling Biodiversity in a Changing World

New EU-funded research has shown how biodiversity might be affected under future models of human-induced change. Researchers modelled the impact on biodiversity in four ‘future worlds’ and found that a reduction in biodiversity was likely in each scenario, even if environmentally-friendly approaches to development were taken.

The four ‘worlds’ were drawn from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) special report on emissions scenarios:

– Global Economic (A1F1): Fuels use, rapid economic growth and introduction of efficient technologies.

– Regional Economic (A2): Emphasis on local traditions, high population growth and low concern for economic development.

– Global Economic (B1): Global solutions for environmental and social sustainability, increased use of ‘green technologies’, such as wind and solar power.

– Regional Environmental (B2): Local rather than global solutions to economic, social and environmental sustainability.

Researchers found that B2 had the greatest increase in urban pressure on biodiversity at local levels, due to the development of numerous small human settlements. The greatest climate impacts were expected under A1F1, but with less pressure on biodiversity in the countryside, due to limited urbanisation in these areas.

Integration of predicted land use and human activity offers a new approach to modelling the impacts of climate change on biodiversity. It is hoped that in future the models can be further refined to offer a regional and species-level analysis and help policy-makers devise conservation strategies.

Araujo, M.B., Nogues-Bravo, D., Reginster, I. et al. (2008). Exposure of European biodiversity to changes in human-induced pressures. Environmental Science and Policy II. 11: 38-45