Climate plays a fundamental role in many of the primary processes of natural systems. Climate is a key factor in determining where individual species of plants and animals can live, grow and reproduce. Changes in climatic factors such as temperature and rainfall may directly affect the distribution, lifecycles, habitat use, physiology and extinction rates of individual species. In turn these changes may modify the structure and composition of certain ecosystems and communities, by altering competition and other interactions between species. In altered ecosystems, invasive species are likely to thrive, whilst rare species may become extinct.
As the earth’s temperature and the intensity of weather events increases, Australia’s native plants and animals are likely to suffer as a result of climate change, with a drastic reduction of the extent and quality of their habitats. A temperature rise of 2.1 degrees to 2.19 degrees could see the geographical ranges of 83 per cent of species reduced by at least 50 per cent. A 5 degrees increase could result in a loss of up to 90 to 100 per cent of the core habitat for most native invertebrates. Our ecologically rich sites, such as the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland Wet Tropics, Kakadu wetlands, Australian Alpine areas, South-western Australia and Sub-Antarctic Islands are all at risk.
The Photo Gallery is a compilation of several MESA member’s contributions and has been provided for use for a range of educational possibilities.