Prof. Guy Midgley
Prof. Guy Midgley
Topic: What Does the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report Tell Us About Terrestrial Biodiversity?
Working as a research scientist for the South African National Biodiversity Institute since 1983 Prof. Midgley instigated climate change research includingin Chile, Australia, USA, Germany, France, Bo...
About Icon
Number of questions: [1]
Posted on 24/10/2014 08:22:53
What are the likely effects of climate change on the fynbos biome, and when?
Ralph Pina (from South Africa)
Great question, thanks for asking it. The Fynbos Biome is an incredibly species-rich corner of the world, situated in the Mediterranean-climate region in south-western South Africa. This Biome is a shrubland that is packed full of plant species with rather small geographic ranges, and is subject to a natural wildfire regime with a return interval of roughly between 5 and 20 years. It is believed that one reason for this very high species richness is the legacy of a relatively stable temperate climate with reliable winter rainfall that has been in place for several million years. Climate models suggest that there is an increasing risk with further global warming that the frontal systems that bring winter rain to this region could be shifted southwards, leading to a reduction in the reliability of this rainfall regime. When this is combined with projected warmer temperatures, simple models of species ranges suggest that the region would face a significantly increasing risk of extinction under such a scenario, by the 2050's and possibly earlier. As always, there are significant uncertainties that could strongly influence such an outcome, and the role of climate change in influencing the fire regime is an important one that needs more work. The region has also long been subject to adverse ecological effects of invasive alien woody plants, and more recently some grasses, and their success and the resulting effects could also interact strongly with climate change.