Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


No one-size-fits-all approach in a changing climate, changing land


As climate change alters habitats for birds and bees and everything in between, so too does the way humans decide to use land.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Aarhus University in Denmark have, for the first time, found a way to determine the potential combined impacts of both climate and land-use change on plants, animals and ecosystems across the country.

The study, which looks at estimates of climate and land-use change speeds, is from Jack Williams, UW-Madison professor of geography; Volker Radeloff, UW-Madison associate professor in the Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology; and postdoctoral researchers Alejandro Ordonez, from Aarhus University and UW-Madison, and Sebastian Martinuz, of UW-Madison. It was published today (Aug. 18, 2014) in the journal Nature Climate Change.

The estimates — relevant to the first 50 years of the 21st century — provide a basis for national, regional and local policy discussions about how to conserve biodiversity and ecosystems in a rapidly changing world. Combining climate and land-use change, the researchers say, may lead to different actions than consideration of either alone.

... more about:
»Climate »ecosystems »species

"For conservation, as the world is changing, we want to know, how will wildlife respond," Radeloff says. "We need to take both land use and climate into account as we look at the future."

For example, flat areas of the Midwest are more vulnerable to climate change than mountainous regions of the country. Conversely, areas in the northeastern U.S. may experience more intensive rates of land use. High demand for cropland in New England would lead to greater destruction of forest, while, in the upper Midwest, it would lead to slower growth of cities.

The analyses thus show different impacts for different regions. Regions exposed to high climate change rates and reductions in habitat due to more rapid land-use change may be higher priority for policy efforts than other areas. In some regions, such as the Great Plains, high rates of land-use change may actually lead to increased forest cover.

"There are lots of studies that look at climate change and a lot of studies that look at land-use change, but very few quantitatively integrate the two together," says Williams, who is also director of the Center for Climatic Research in the UW-Madison Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies.

In their approach, the researchers used the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 5th Assessment Report and socioeconomic parameters from the U.S. Natural Resources Inventory to create scenarios that looked at the rate of change of both climate and land use, referred to as the speed of climate and land-use change. The land-use scenarios came from models previously developed by Radeloff and his team in 2012.

For climate, this meant looking at changes in variables like precipitation, water deficit, and temperature. For land use, it meant assessing changes to housing prices, agricultural taxes, carbon subsidies and more.

The speed of climate change in a particular place matters because it determines how quickly a given species of plant or animal must migrate from one region to another to stay within its optimal climate, or how quickly it must adapt to new conditions. Similarly, land-use speeds measure how quickly land cover changes, which can lead to new or lost habitat, species isolation, or barriers to species entering or leaving an area.

The combined scenarios are not, Williams and Radeloff say, meant to advise policymakers what to do, but rather, to show what is likely given specific changes to policy in the context of a changing climate and changing land.

It's not "what's going to happen, but a range of what might be likely," says Radeloff. "If we change these policies, this is what's likely to happen."

The team found that, overall, climate change has an order of magnitude more impact than land use, but the relative impact of both differs by region.

"Across the U.S., the rates of climate change are a big deal," says Williams. "If we are thinking about land use and conservation planning, these results put both into perspective."

The researchers joined forces across fields because they say the sweep of global change requires coordinated research. Change is inevitable, they say, but humans have the chance to mitigate their impact in ways that give the world's wildlife a chance to thrive.

"We won't stop climate change but maybe we can slow it … we may be able to give species time to adapt," says Radeloff. "Now we have geese living on golf courses, but Aldo Leopold was worried they were going to go extinct. That's probably not going to happen."


The work was supported by the Bryson Climate, People and Environment Program; the HISTFUNC project; the National Science Foundation; and NASA's Land Cover and Land Use Change Program.

Kelly April Tyrrell,

Jack Williams | Eurek Alert!
Further information:

Further reports about: Climate ecosystems species

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Space observation with radar to secure Germany's space infrastructure

Satellites in near-Earth orbit are at risk due to the steady increase in space debris. But their mission in the areas of telecommunications, navigation or weather forecasts is essential for society. Fraunhofer FHR therefore develops radar-based systems which allow the detection, tracking and cataloging of even the smallest particles of debris. Satellite operators who have access to our data are in a better position to plan evasive maneuvers and prevent destructive collisions. From April, 25-29 2018, Fraunhofer FHR and its partners will exhibit the complementary radar systems TIRA and GESTRA as well as the latest radar techniques for space observation across three stands at the ILA Berlin.

The "traffic situation" in space is very tense: the Earth is currently being orbited not only by countless satellites but also by a large volume of space...

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

New solar solutions for sustainable buildings and cities

23.03.2018 | Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

For graphite pellets, just add elbow grease

23.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Unique communication strategy discovered in stem cell pathway controlling plant growth

23.03.2018 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

Sharpening the X-ray view of the nanocosm

23.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>