Impact of climate change on population trends: a cross-taxon assessment

Observational data indicate that species are already being affected by climate change; however, these data also indicate that species are varying in their response. An important research challenge is to understand this variation because this will help make predictions on which species, communities and ecosystems are most at risk.

Traits (such as ecology, morphology, physiology, and life history) determine how species interact with their environment and therefore analysis at the level of the trait can help understand species’ response to climate change.

In a collaborative project with long-term data set owners, we will compare the population trends of a wide range of organisms in all environmental realms (freshwater, marine, and terrestrial), with a geographical focus of Germany and surrounding regions. By the large variation in taxonomic groups and traits, we hope to test whether predictions of the associations of traits, such as climatic niche, are upheld across different types of organisms.

Project aims

• To form a network of data owners with long-term population data sets collected in Germany and surrounding regions and an associated metadata repository with information on the data available.
• To perform trait-based, comparative analyses of the recent population trends of a broad range of taxonomic groups.
• To test the importance of traits such as climatic niche in explaining recent trends.

Data requirements

To be assessed for inclusion in the project, data sets should have the following features:

• Measure of abundance (e.g. estimated population density for birds, ground cover for plants) sampled either continuously or from time slices for at least 10 years.
• Similar data collected for at least 2 species.
• Data on the temperature niche of the species (the temperature niche can be approximated from geographical occurrence records).
• Data should be available for the species on other traits e.g., habitat, diet, trophic level, and dispersal.

Please contact Diana Bowler for more information about the project, and if you are a data set owner who would like to be involved.