Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability

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5.10. Research Needs across Ecosystems

Most of the foregoing sections mention the need for further research in many areas. Results are needed for future assessments of the impacts of climate change on goods and services provided by ecosystems, adaptation options, or identification of vulnerable systems or regions. It also is clear that most of the research to date has focused on impacts and some on adaptation, with little effort on the vulnerability of systems or regions. Key areas where research is needed to improve future assessments and decrease uncertainties in existing knowledge are as follows (order does not imply priority):

  • Long-term monitoring of agricultural processes for detection of impacts of climate change and climate variability and development of possible adaptations to these impacts
  • Coupling of pest and crop/animal process modeling to estimate climate-induced pest impacts on crops and livestock
  • Pest and disease interaction with climate change and the impact of these interactions on many ecosystems
  • Development of coupled biophysical-economic modeling of farm-level decisionmaking under climate change
  • Improved understanding of agricultural vulnerability and adaptive capacity
  • Improved understanding of interactive effects of climate change and management on carbon source-sink relations in many ecosystems
  • Determination of mechanisms that create the often complex changes in wildlife populations, through a systems-type approach to problemsolving such as strategic cyclical scaling (SCS)3
  • Development of better understanding of the link between biodiversity and ecosystems functions (role each species plays in ecosystem goods and services is necessary to understand the risks and possible surprises associated with species loss)
  • The impact of land-use change on biodiversity and the consequence of these impacts on good and services from ecosystems
  • The impact of the added stress of climate change on many ecosystems that are under pressure from human activities
  • Exploration of management options (including individual species range) that could be used to adapt to the impacts of global change (allowing ecosystems to continue to provide essential goods and services in a changed and rapidly changing world)
  • Exploration of the role of integrated management as a means for providing better management options for many ecosystems
  • Long-term experiments on intact natural ecosystems across their native range to study the interactive effect of climate change, elevated CO2, nutrient/pollution deposition, soil moisture, and WUE of plants
  • The interaction of elevated CO2, increased temperature, and changes in soil moisture with nitrogen deposition and land-use change in influencing the goods and services provided by ecosystems
  • Valuation of nonmarket goods and services, such as recreation and NWFP
  • Management of exotics and achieving desired community structures (research and alternative models for such activities needed in terrestrial and aquatic systems)
  • Development of a predictive approach for identifying and dealing with spatial heterogeneity, since responses to climate change differ greatly in adjacent areas (increasing the risk of inappropriate actions with large expenditures of local resources)
  • Development of systems models for peatlands, including analysis and modeling of the dynamic interactions between climate change impacts, vegetation development, and carbon exchange between wetland ecosystems and the atmosphere at several spatial scales (from stands to regions to the globe)
  • The role of fire and other disturbances on many ecosystems and their role in trace-gas budgets
  • Time lags by which productivity, decomposition, and disturbance in ecosystems respond to climatic change
  • Assessment of the vulnerability of unique biological resources that are culturally important to many indigenous peoples.
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