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Climate change: potential implications for Ireland’s biodiversity

Abstract

A national biodiversity and climate change adaptation plan is being developed for Ireland by the Department of Communications, Climate Action, and Environment. In order to inform such a plan, it was necessary to review and synthesize some of the recent literature pertaining to the impact of climate change on biodiversity in Ireland. Published research on this topic fell within three broad categories: (i) changes in the timing of life-cycle events (phenology) of plants, birds, and insects; (ii) changes in the geographic range of some bird species; and (iii) changes in the suitable climatic zones of key habitats and species. The synthesis revealed evidence of (i) a trend towards earlier spring activity of plants, birds, and insects which may result in a change in ecosystem function; (ii) an increase in the number of bird species; and (iii) both increases and decreases in the suitable climatic area of key habitats and species, all of which are expected to impact Ireland’s future biodiversity. This process identified data gaps and limitations in available information both of which could be used to inform a focused research strategy. In addition, it raises awareness of the potential implications of climate change for biodiversity in Ireland and elsewhere and demonstrates the need for biodiversity conservation plans to factor climate change into future designs.

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Acknowledgements

I wish to thank the numerous anonymous reviewers and field editors for their insightful comments and helpful suggestions which greatly enhanced this paper.

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Correspondence to Alison Donnelly.

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Donnelly, A. Climate change: potential implications for Ireland’s biodiversity. Int J Biometeorol 62, 1221–1228 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00484-018-1526-2

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Keywords

  • Climate change
  • Biodiversity
  • Phenology
  • Range shifts
  • Suitable climatic area
  • Ireland