Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Vulnerability to climate change and sea-level rise of the 35th biodiversity hotspot, the Forests of East Australia

  • C. BELLARD (a1) (a2), C. LECLERC (a1), B. D. HOFFMANN (a3) and F. COURCHAMP (a1) (a4)

There is an urgent need to understand how climate change, including sea-level rise, is likely to threaten biodiversity and cause secondary effects, such as agro-ecosystem alteration and human displacement. The consequences of climate change, and the resulting sea-level rise within the Forests of East Australia biodiversity hotspot, were modelled and assessed for the 2070–2099 period. Climate change effects were predicted to affect c. 100000 km2, and a rise in sea level an area of 860 km2; this could potentially lead to the displacement of 20600 inhabitants. The two threats were projected to mainly affect natural and agricultural areas. The greatest conservation benefits would be obtained by either maintaining or increasing the conservation status of areas in the northern (Wet Tropics) or southern (Sydney Basin) extremities of the hotspot, as they constitute about half of the area predicted to be affected by climate change, and both areas harbour high species richness. Increasing the connectivity of protected areas for Wet Tropics and Sydney Basin species to enable them to move into new habitat areas is also important. This study provides a basis for future research on the effects on local biodiversity and agriculture.

Corresponding author
*Correspondence: Dr Celine Bellard e-mail:
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

E.A. Ainsworth & S.P. Long (2005) What have we learned from 15 years of free-air CO2 enrichment (FACE)? A meta-analytic review of the responses of photosynthesis, canopy properties and plant production to rising CO2 . The New Phytologist 165: 351–71.

A.D. Barnosky , N. Matzke , S. Tomiya , G.O.U. Wogan , B. Swartz , T.B. Quental , C. Marshall , J.L. McGuire , E.L. Lindsey , K.C. Maguire , B. Mersey & E.A. Ferrer (2011) Has the Earth's sixth mass extinction already arrived? Nature 471: 5157.

C. Bellard , C. Bertelsmeier , P. Leadley , W. Thuiller & F. Courchamp (2012) Impacts of climate change on the future of biodiversity. Ecology Letters 15: 365377.

C. Bellard , C. Leclerc & F. Courchamp (2013 a) Impact of sea level rise on the 10 insular biodiversity hotspots. Global Ecology and Biogeography 23: 203212.

C. Bellard , W. Thuiller , B. Leroy , P. Genovesi , M. Bakkenes & F. Courchamp (2013 b) Will climate change promote future invasions? Global Change Biology 19: 37403748.

I.D. Craigie , J.E.M. Baillie , A. Balmford , C. Carbone , B. Collen , R.E. Green & J.M. Hutton (2010) Large mammal population declines in Africa's protected areas. Biological Conservation 143: 22212228.

V. Devictor , R. Julliard , D. Couvet & F. Jiguet (2008) Birds are tracking climate warming, but not fast enough. Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences 275: 2743–8.

M.C. Evans , J.E.M. Watson , R.A. Fuller , O. Venter , S.C. Bennett , P.R. Marsack & H.P. Possingham (2011) The spatial distribution of threats to species in Australia. BioScience 61: 281289.

R.A. Feagin , D.J. Sherman & W.E. Grant (2005) Coastal erosion, global sea-level rise, and the loss of sand dune plant habitats. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 3: 359364.

G. Fischer , M. Shah , F.N. Tubiello & H. van Velhuizen (2005) Socio-economic and climate change impacts on agriculture: an integrated assessment, 1990–2080. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences 360: 2067–83.

W.B. Foden , S.H.M. Butchart , S.N. Stuart , J.-C. Vié , H.R. Akçakaya , A. Angulo , L.M. DeVantier , A. Gutsche , E. Turak , L. Cao , S.D. Donner , V. Katariya , R. Bernard , R.A. Holland , A.F. Hughes , S.E. O’Hanlon , S.T. Garnett , C.H. Sekercioğlu & G.M. Mace (2013) Identifying the world's most climate change vulnerable species: a systematic trait-based assessment of all birds, amphibians and corals. PloS One 8: e65427.

A. Grinsted , J.C. Moore & S. Jevrejeva (2009) Reconstructing sea level from paleo and projected temperatures 200 to 2100 AD. Climate Dynamics 34: 461472.

S. Harris , S. Arnall , M. Byrne , D. Coates , M. Hayward , T. Martin , N. Mitchell & S. Garnett (2013) Whose backyard? Some precautions in choosing recipient sites for assisted colonisation of Australian plants and animals. Ecological Management and Restoration 14: 106111.

J.J. Hellmann , J.E. Byers , B.G. Biderwagen & J.S. Dukes (2008) Five potential consequences of climate change for invasive species. Conservation Biology 22: 534543.

R.J. Hijmans , S.E. Cameron , J.L. Parra , P.G. Jones & A. Jarvis (2005) Very high resolution interpolated climate surfaces for global land areas. International Journal of Climatology 25: 19651978.

J.R. Hiley , R.B. Bradbury , M. Holling & C.D. Thomas (2013) Protected areas act as establishment centres for species colonizing the UK. Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences 280: 20122310.

S. Lavergne , N. Mouquet , W. Thuiller & O. Ronce (2010) Biodiversity and climate change: integrating evolutionary and ecological responses of species and communities. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics 41: 321350.

J.J. Lawler (2009) Climate change adaptation strategies for resource management and conservation planning. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1162: 7998.

J. X. Leon , G. B. M. Heuvelink & S. R. Phinn (2014) Incorporating DEM uncertainty in coastal inundation mapping. PloS One, 9: e108727.

B.G. Mackey , J.E.M. Watson , G. Hope & S. Gilmore (2008) Climate change, biodiversity conservation, and the role of protected areas: an Australian perspective. Biodiversity 9: 1118.

J.R. Malcolm , C. Liu , R.P. Neilson , L. Hansen & L. Hannah (2006) Global warming and extinctions of endemic species from biodiversity hotspots. Conservation Biology 20: 538548.

J.T. Overpeck , B.L. Otto-Bliesner , G.H. Miller , D.R. Muhs , R.B. Alley & J.T. Kiehl (2006) Paleoclimatic evidence for future ice-sheet instability and rapid sea-level rise. Science 311: 1747–50.

J. Peñuelas , J. Sardans , M. Estiarte , R. Ogaya , J. Carnicer , M. Coll , A. Barbeta , A. Rivas-ubach , J. Llusià , M. Garbulsky , I. Filella & A.S. Jump (2013) Evidence of current impact of climate change on life: a walk from genes to the biosphere. Global Change Biology 19: 23032338.

H.M. Pereira , P.W. Leadley , V. Proença , R. Alkemade , J.P.W. Scharlemann , J.F. Fernandez-Manjarrés , M.B. Araújo , P. Balvanera , R. Biggs , W.W.L. Cheung , L. Chini , H.D. Cooper , E.L. Gilman , S. Guénette , G.C. Hurtt , H.P. Huntington , G.M. Mace , T. Oberdorff , C. Revenga , P. Rodrigues , et al. (2010) Scenarios for global biodiversity in the 21st century. Science 330: 1496–501.

W.T. Pfeffer , J.T. Harper & S. O’Neel (2008) Kinematic constraints on glacier contributions to 21st-century sea-level rise. Science 321: 1340–3.

A. Ricciardi & D. Simberloff (2009) Assisted colonization is not a viable conservation strategy. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 24: 248–53.

S. Le Saout , M. Hoffmann , Y. Shi , A. Hughes , C. Bernard , T.M. Brooks , B. Bertzky , S.H.M. Butchart , S.N. Stuart , T. Badman & A.S.L. Rodrigues (2013) Protected areas and effective biodiversity conservation. Science 342: 803805.

L. P. Shoo , J. O’Mara , K. Perhans , J. R. Rhodes , R. K. Runting , S. Schmidt , L.W. Traill , L.C. Weber , K.A. Wilson & C. E. Lovelock (2014) Moving beyond the conceptual: specificity in regional climate change adaptation actions for biodiversity in South East Queensland, Australia. Regional Environmental Change, 14: 435447.

S.D. Veloz , J.W. Williams , J.L. Blois , F. He , B. Otto-Bliesner & Z. Liu (2012) No-analog climates and shifting realized niches during the late Quaternary: implications for 21st-century predictions by species distribution models. Global Change Biology 18: 16981713.

S. Veloz & J. Williams (2011) Identifying climatic analogs for Wisconsin under 21st -century climate-change scenarios. Climatic Change 112: 10371058.

J.E.M. Watson , R.A. Fuller , A.W.T. Watson , B.G. Mackey , K.A. Wilson , H.S. Grantham , M. Turner , C.J. Klein , J. Carwardine , L.N. Joseph & H.P. Possingham (2009) Wilderness and future conservation priorities in Australia. Diversity and Distributions 15: 10281036.

A.P. Webb & P.S. Kench (2010) The dynamic response of reef islands to sea-level rise: evidence from multi-decadal analysis of island change in the Central Pacific. Global and Planetary Change 72: 234246.

F.T. Wetzel , H. Beissmann , D.J. Penn & W. Jetz (2013) Vulnerability of terrestrial island vertebrates to projected sea-level rise. Global Change Biology 19: 2058–70.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Environmental Conservation
  • ISSN: 0376-8929
  • EISSN: 1469-4387
  • URL: /core/journals/environmental-conservation
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Type Description Title
Supplementary Materials

Bellard supplementary material
Figure S1-S8 and Table S1-S5

 Word (2.5 MB)
2.5 MB


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 31
Total number of PDF views: 82 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 504 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 20th September 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.