Yale and University of Connecticut researchers report that more extinctions will take place due to global warming should “scientists fail to account for interactions among species in their models.”
According to Phoebe Zarnetske, primary author and postdoctoral fellow at Yale’s School of forestry & Environmental Studies department, “Currently, most models predicting the effects of climate change treat species separately and focus only on climatic and environmental drivers.” She goes on to state, “But we know that species don’t exist in a vacuum. They interact with each other in ways that deeply affect their viability.”
The intricacy of “species interaction networks” does not promote models that tell what effect climate change has on these predators, according to Zarnetske. She goes on to say that, by the year 2050, somewhere from 15 to 37 percent of these animals will be facing extinction.
What is the effect of other species in the food chain? Researchers indicate that predators and herbivores are strongly connected to many other animals. Researchers indicate that these species are “biotic multipliers” which increase extinction risk and change the ranges of many animals below predators in the food chain.
“Climate change is likely to have strong effects on top consumers. As a result, these effects can ripple through an entire food web, multiplying extinction risks along the way,” said Dave Skelly, a co-author of the study and professor of ecology at Yale.
The paper, “Biotic Multipliers of Climate Change Effects,” indicates that by focusing on the biotic multipliers along with their interactions with species, it is a promising way to improve what predictions of the effects of climate change have on the predators.