San Diego Ecosystems: The impacts of climate change on a biodiversity hotspot

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The Mediterranean ecosystems of southern California are some of the most ecologically diverse systems in the world. The diversity of plants and animals, as well as high rates of endemism, make the area a biodiversity hotspot. High diversity in plant and animal species contributes greatly to the health and productivity of ecosystems, and plays an important role in the local and state economy (e.g. tourism, food crops, etc.).
San Diego County's complex topography, highly variable precipitation and climate play a large role in determining the biology of the region. Changing temperatures and precipitation patterns due to climate change would alter the region's climate and add to other stressors such as habitat fragmentation from roadways and suburban-rural development. Natural resource management and conservation actions would be greatly enhanced by a better understanding of  which natural resources are most at risk from climate change and increased climate variability in San Diego’s diverse terrestrial ecosystems.
This project aims to uncover and assess these risks to and implications for San Diego County’s biodiversity and important natural resources. The project team, which includes climatologists and ecologists, will assess the state of the science regarding the potential climate impacts to natural resources in the region and will bring to light knowledge gaps and science needs in order to further develop our scientific understanding. This assessment will include a review of efforts that have already been made to conserve open spaces and natural resources in the area. The team will also explore the most regionally-relevant climate adaptation strategies that can be applied to buffer the effects of climate variability and provide several case-study examples of adaptation projects that have been successfully implemented in San Diego. The final report from this effort will be presented as part of the 4th California Climate Change Vulnerability and Adaptation Assessment.

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