Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Invasive Species and Climate Change

From the US Global Change Research Program, a look at the impact climate change might have on biodiversity and invasive species: …Invasive species are currently a significant issue on the Great Plains. Invasive species are plant or animal species that have been introduced into an environment (often accidentally) in which they did not evolve. Such species usually have no natural enemies present to limit their reproduction and spread. Invasive species typically have high reproductive rates, fast growth rates, and good dispersal mechanisms. The costs and weed-associated losses from invasive species in crop and forage production in the agricultural sector are currently nearly $15 billion annually…

…Rather than identify specific strategies, the following is a proposed set of general principles to guide strategic development of social responses to climate change. The five principles can be articulated as follows:

* “No regrets -- strategies: These strategies respond to existing stresses while also making the system more resilient to climate change, all without incurring significant costs…
* Alternative pathways: Alternatives to adaptation can be provided by developing effective coping strategies for present and future stresses. For example, enhancing the heterogeneity of landscapes and connected aquatic and terrestrial systems can provide a more diverse set of alternative pathways for adaptation. … The idea of enhancing land stewardship by private landowners is central to the success of this management principle;
* Preserve diverse habitats: By focusing on preserving current land uses that promote integrity in natural systems, biodiversity can be enhanced.
* Adaptive management: Adaptive management involves learning by doing and continually evaluating what works and what fails to work in an attempt to lessen the impacts of climate change on natural systems.
* Information dissemination: Effective coping strategies depend on informing the public and decision makers about the implications of climate change for natural systems, and what these effects mean to the quality of human life. For example, why is the role of wetlands in flood control important to society? What could changes in this natural system mean to a community or to other natural systems - both locally and regionally?

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