This interdisciplinary research, supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the government of Mexico and led by A. Townsend Peterson of the University of Kansas Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Research Center (UKNHM), relied on extensive collections of species data assembled by Mexico's biodiversity commission, CONABIO, and a powerful software program, the Genetic Algorithm for Rule-Set Prediction (GARP), created by SDSC's David Stockwell, which ran on a supercomputer provided by the NSF-funded National Partnership for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (NPACI).
In a nutshell, what the researchers found is that over the next 50 years the changing climate is predicted to bring about great instability for wildlife, reshuffling ecosystems and throwing new predators and prey together as new diseases and parasites are introduced, with a majority of species having smaller geographical ranges than today. "In some local communities more than 40 percent of species are expected to turn over, which will lead to a cascade of further effects," said Peterson, lead author of the Nature paper. "If you remove enough species from an ecosystem, it's like the old child's game of pick-up-sticks -- there are only so many changes you can make before the ecosystem just rearranges, and maybe s
Contact: David Hart
University of California - San Diego