The future of vascular plant diversity under four global scenarios

11-12-2006 | Publication

Biodiversity is of crucial importance for ecosystem functioning and human well-being. Using quantitative projections of changes in land use and climate from the four Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) scenarios, we project that reduction of habitat by year 2050 will result in a loss of global vascular plant diversity ranging from 7-24% relative to 1995, after populations have reached equilibrium with the reduced habitat. This range includes both the impact of different scenarios and uncertainty in the SAR relationship. Biomes projected to lose the most species are warm mixed forest, savannahs, shrub, tropical forest, and tropical woodlands. In the 2000-2050 period, land-use change contributes more on a global scale to species diversity loss than does climate change, 7-13% vs. 2-4% loss at equilibrium for different scenarios, respectively. However, after 2050, climate change will become increasingly important.