Can biodiversity adapt to climate change?

Organisms around the world are already responding to our changing climate. Changes in the abundance and geographical distribution of many species have already been documented, and are predicted to intensify in the future – leading to extinction and adding to the toll of the global biodiversity crisis.

However, the scenarios forecasting biodiversity change in future climates rarely consider the different mechanisms of adaptation to environmental change that already play a fundamental role in the diversity of life on Earth.

For instance, some birds are known to advance the date at which they lay their eggs when the weather is warmer, genetic changes granting better drought resistance have occurred in some plant populations, and many species have extended their range towards cooler regions to track the climate they are used to.

So should we be more optimistic about the capacity of biodiversity to adapt to climate change? Unfortunately, the answer to that question is not simple.

Join researcher Ophelie Ronce for this illuminating talk, in which she will illustrate existing mechanisms of adaptation to climate change through examples in animals and plants. Learn about their limits and how modelling sheds light on the many uncertainties about the future of biodiversity in altered climates. She will also discuss how to facilitate adaptation to climate change.

Part of the Way Cool Biodiversity Series.

Ophelie Ronce is a researcher at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in Montpellier, France. She is currently an invited scholar at the Peter Wall Institute of Advanced Sciences, UBC, working on models of adaptation to climate change in forest trees. She studies the evolution of plants, animals and microbes by modelling their dynamics, using mathematics and computer programs. She has led various research and synthesis groups working on adaptation to global changes, combining models, observations and experiments.

Lead image: Charles Bukowsky

Headshot: Université Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne

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