2.10 Shifting habitats and species impacts

Global warming affects both habitats and the species that rely on them (Foden et al 2013). Vegetation zones are projected to shift northward, (e.g. tundra will turn into forests and polar deserts will turn into tundra (ACIA 2006) and it is predicted that forest will replace from half to two thirds of tundra. (University of Cambridge 2006). In Polar Regions, the sea ice is fundamental for species which rely on ice for resting, feeding and breeding. In a greenhouse future, the progressively earlier break-up of the Arctic sea ice, would increase starvation rates and decrease birth rates in marine mammals (CBD 2007). Mountain glaciers are expected to continue shrinking, causing habitat impacts for many species. Changes in rainfall and snowfall also affects streamflows and wetlands, affecting wildlife and possibly accelerating the invasion of non-native plants into streamside habitats (AMAP 2012). Projected sea level rise would inundate wetlands and lowlands and would increase the saltwater intrusion in marshes, estuaries and aquifers that would affect wildlife around the world (Pearce-Kelly et al 2013).

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