Neo-Science of Natural History : Integration of Geoscience and Biodiversity Studies;Proceedings


Climate Change, Human Impacts, and Community Structure

Woollacott, Robert M.

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KEYWORDS : Kelp communities;Global warming;Habitat fragmentation;Invasive species


Since the Industrial Revolution, anthropogenic influences have assumed a major role that will shape future global climate change. Additionally, evidence is emerging that human impact on climate can be detected circa 8,000 BP in carbon dioxide anomalies temporally correlated with the beginning of forest clearing and circa 5,000 BP in atmospheric methane levels occurring at the time of initial wet rice cultivation. How will future elevated seawater temperature, changes in patterns of precipitation, and the frequency and distribution of major storm events unfold? How will they affect marine life? Most organisms will likely adapt by altering distribution patterns. But will rates of extinction increase? How will such events at the species level forced by climate change translate into alterations in community structure? We must also expect greater fragmentation of the habitat as human population density increases in coastal areas. Finally, alien species present serious threats to habitat stability. In this paper, I will focus on three case studies each involving kelp communities that reveal some of the complex issues inherent in studies of biodiversity and its linkages to climate change and human impacts.