Applied and Landscape Ecology to Mitigate Effects of Climate Change

Introduction

Climate Change impacts every aspect of the natural ecology. Changes in climate affect biodiversity, social and economic wellbeing. In an age where changes in climate are well experienced, it is of interest to humankind that the impacts of climate change are determined and addressed in time. The WWF reports that humankind has over the years lived beyond the provision of nature (Metzger & Brancalion, 2013). Consequently, destruction of forests and production of carbon emissions among other lethal gases has enhanced climate change. The impacts of climate change on the landscape; particularly forests differ from one region to another. For example, the Sub-Arctic boreal forests, temperature rise is projected to shift the forest line as discussed in Bastian (2010). Research in Applied and Landscape Ecology is one of the many approaches that can offer insight and adaptive solutions in response to climate change.  This research proposal explores methods that can be sought within the broad field of Applied and Landscape Ecology to understand current and future effects of climate change on forest ecology.

                                                            Background of Study                                            

Research Problem

Climate changes continue to impact forests environment in complex and dynamic ways adversely. Failure to comprehend the effects of climate change on landscape and land use limits proper management of consequences of climate change.

Research Objectives

 Four research objectives have been developed in this study;

  1. Understand the effects of greenhouse gasses and increase in carbon concentration on landscape and land use.
  2. Develop new methodologies and approaches in deterring impacts of climate change on landscape
  3. Consequences and impacts of climate change under different scenarios
  4. Develop adequate solutions for landscape management

Material and Methodology

Climate change and its effects on forests landscape are both a global and local concern.  Numerous studies have been designed in the past and the present on the interaction between climate change and landscape development. A qualitative analysis of such available information and data will be used to attain the objectives of this study.

Literature Review

Landscape ecology is a section of ecological studies that deals with the relationship between spatial pattern and ecological processes. Ecological processes include Nitrogen Fixation and the Carbon cycle.  Previous studies have identified natural, and human-made disturbance in the occurrence of environmental processes.  Through spatial pattern observed over time, researchers are in the position to determine the development of dominant processes that result in climate change. Consequently, inferences from these observations have been used to offer solutions to changes in climate. Practically, landscape ecology is an exclusively broad topic. Hence, this literature review narrows to the relationship between landscape ecology and climate change. 

Studies investigating the impacts of climate change on biodiversity increases continuously with development of more knowledge on the issue.  Species response to impacts of climate change have been reported in several ecologies. While some studies consider that geographical space is fit for natural and artificial colonization, it is given that changes in climate change result from disturbance of land cover (Vos, Berry, Opdam, & Baveco, 2008). A multiscale approach is frequently adopted to determine the effects of changes in the land cover. From a local viewpoint, the critical question is if the species that disappear as a result of climate change are effectively replaced. Based on a biogeographical scale, a crucial inquiry is if the losses realized from climate change are naturally compensated by species colonization of suitable environments. 

 The ability of species to colonize an environment, whether biogeographical or local scale depends on both landscape and species features. Several species oriented studies have validated the rather provided statement. For instance, colonization of new habitat relies heavily on the efficiency of a dispersal agent.  An effective response to climate change is defined by the ability of dispersal agents to move into more viable locations. The idea of distance brings into light the availability of habitat for affected species. Gutzwille (2011) notes that, fragmentation of habitats, which is common in many ecologies is a major limitation to effective colonization. Evidently, the impacts of climate change on biodiversity are immense. Understanding the effects of climate changes as postulated above dictates an approach of landscape ecology.

Comprehending the spatial connectivity required to enable biota to adapt to climate changes is very critical. Data and information on landscape configuration, integrated with biophysical needs of species help determine how a particular species can be maintained in its particular habitat. Further, such information and data are useful in determining if natural migration can be facilitated based on ecology landscape principles or dictate species translocation (Bastian, 2010).

The term “disturbance” is broadly used in similar research works as well as literature studies. In the past, forests have been viewed as ecologies that are stable and unchanging. Research development has shown that all ecologies are prone to dynamics emerging from within and outside the ecosystem (Meyer & Rannow, 2013). The disturbance is an external force that is defined by changes in structure, organisms, and energy brought about by a biotic or abiotic agent.  Natural causes of disturbance include insects and mammalian herbivores. Abiotic sources of disturbance include fire, ice, drought, and the wind.  The structure and composition of natural ecologies differ from one environment to another. With major changes in climate, several regions are meant to experience changes in disturbance regimes. Wildfire frequency, forest insects and disease outbreaks, flood frequencies and wind frequencies are more likely to be experienced in current times (Vos, Berry, Opdam, & Baveco, 2008). The impacts of changes in natural disturbances are more likely to worsen the impacts of climate change on a particular ecology.  Subsequently, shifts in forest disturbance will dictate the change in risk management and prediction (Gutzwiller, 2011). To understand and develop risk management strategies, landscape ecology among other knowledge are critical as shown in the discussion above. 

Conclusion

Managing climate change especially in forest ecologies is considered one of the most demanding challenge today. Interaction among abiotic and biotic features as discussed above as well as social and economic aspects of ecology complicate the quest of managing effects of climate change. Changes in climate are more likely to affect the landscape in the short term or long term.  Hence, landscape ecology is a viable way to develop a static equilibrium view and to develop particular solutions to known effects of climate change to the landscape. There are four key aspects of landscape ecology in climate changes. The first aspect is to investigate greenhouse emissions increase in carbon concentration within the context of landscape and land utilization. The second aspect is to develop new methodologies and approaches in understanding the effects of climate change.  The third key aspect is determining effects of climate change under different scenarios.  The fourth objective is to determine adequate solutions for landscape management.

References

Bastian, O. (2010). Landscape Ecology; towards a unified discipline? Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Gutzwiller, K. (2011). Applying Landscape Ecology in Biological Conservation. Springer Science & Business Media.

Metzger, J. P., & Brancalion, P. H. (2013). Challenges and Opportunities in Applying a Landscape Ecology Perspective in Ecological Restoration: a Powerful Approach to Shape No landscapes. Brazilian Journal of Nature Conservation.

Meyer, B. C., & Rannow, S. (2013). Landscape ecology and climate change adaptation: new perspectives in managing the change. Regional Environmental Change, 739-741.

Vos, C. C., Berry, P., Opdam, P., & Baveco, H. (2008). Adapting landscapes to climate change: examples of climate-proof ecosystem networks and priority adaptation zones. Journal of Applied Ecology, 1722–1731.

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