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Trends Ecol Evol. 2011 May;26(5):249-59. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2011.02.012. Epub 2011 Apr 7.

Improving assessment and modelling of climate change impacts on global terrestrial biodiversity.

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Smithsonian Institution Global Earth Observatory, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Edgewater, MD 21307, USA.


Understanding how species and ecosystems respond to climate change has become a major focus of ecology and conservation biology. Modelling approaches provide important tools for making future projections, but current models of the climate-biosphere interface remain overly simplistic, undermining the credibility of projections. We identify five ways in which substantial advances could be made in the next few years: (i) improving the accessibility and efficiency of biodiversity monitoring data, (ii) quantifying the main determinants of the sensitivity of species to climate change, (iii) incorporating community dynamics into projections of biodiversity responses, (iv) accounting for the influence of evolutionary processes on the response of species to climate change, and (v) improving the biophysical rule sets that define functional groupings of species in global models.

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