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Species Extinctions (Model Predictions) -- Summary
The world's climate alarmists contend that CO2-induced global warming will lead to numerous extinctions of both plants and animals. Initially, this claim was based solely on models of how they thought Earth's climate behaved in response to increases in various atmospheric greenhouse gases, contending that the increases in temperature predicted to result from projected increases in the air's CO2 content would be so great and occur so rapidly that many species would not be able to migrate either poleward in latitude or upward in elevation rapidly enough to avoid extinction in their attempts to find suitable (i.e., cooler) living conditions.

Woodwell (1989), for example, wrote that "the changes expected are rapid enough to exceed the capacity of forests to migrate or otherwise adapt. Davis (1989) said that "trees may not be able to disperse rapidly enough to track climate." Gear and Huntley (1991) claimed that "the maximum [migration] rates attainable by ... long-lived sessile organisms [are] more than an order of magnitude less than those required to maintain equilibrium with forecast anthropogenically induced climate changes," while Root and Schneider (1993) stated that "changes in global climate are expected to occur ... too fast for evolutionary processes such as natural selection to keep pace," and that such constraints "could substantially enhance the probability of extinction of numerous species."

Dyer (1995) echoed these sentiments, stating that "the magnitude of the projected warming is considerable; the rate at which it is predicted to occur is unprecedented," and that there is thus "genuine reason for concern that the extent of range shifts will exceed the dispersal abilities of many plant species." Malcolm and Markham (2000) agreed that "rapid rates of global warming are likely to increase rates of habitat loss and species extinction [since] many species may be unable to shift their ranges fast enough to keep up with global warming." Malcolm et al. (2002) concurred, stating that "migration rates required by the warming are unprecedented by historical standards, raising the possibility of extensive, and in many cases, catastrophic, species loss." Root et al. (2003) also repeated the mantra that "rapid temperature rise and other stresses ... could ... lead to numerous extirpations and possibly extinctions," while Parmesan and Yohe (2003) suggested that the CO2-induced global warming extinction phenomenon was already underway, with its initial effects being manifest in numerous "mini-migrations" of plant and animal populations throughout the world.

Obviously needing something better than these mere declarations to promote their concerns, the world's climate alarmists eventually began to produce biological models that supported their claims. One of the first groups of scientists to do so in a really big way was Thomas et al. (2004), who developed projections of future habitat distributions for over one thousand different plants and animals, which they used to produce estimates of extinction probabilities associated with Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) climate change scenarios for the year 2050.

Prior to the publication of their paper, Thomas et al.'s results were widely disseminated to the popular media, which generally portrayed them as first-rate scientific findings that depicted the inevitable annihilation of over a million unique species, if anthropogenic CO2 emissions were not quickly and dramatically reduced. This news was viewed by many opponents of fossil fuel usage as yet another opportunity to browbeat humanity in an attempt to get the world community of nations - and the United States in particular - to accept their demands for draconian reductions in the development and use of these CO2-emitting energy sources.

The nineteen scientist-authors of the paper that created all the fuss began their analysis by determining the "climate envelopes" of a total of 1,103 species. Each of these envelopes represented the current climatic conditions under which a given species was found in nature. Then, after seeing how the identically-defined habitat area of each of the studied species would be expected to change in response to an increase in temperature (most habitat areas declined), they used an empirical power-law relationship that relates species number to area size to make their final extinction probability calculations.

At first blush, this procedure seems reasonable enough, all else being equal. But "all else" is almost always not equal when something changes in the real world; and the case in point was no exception. Accompanying a CO2-induced increase in air temperature, for example, there is always - by definition - a concomitant increase in the atmosphere's CO2 concentration; and this concurrent phenomenon, the physiological effects of which on earth's plants were totally ignored by Thomas et al., has some critically important consequences that dramatically alter their conclusions. In fact, these consequences actually refute their conclusions.

The key fact ignored by the nineteen scientists was that plants in a CO2-enriched atmosphere generally prefer warmer temperatures than they do when exposed to air of the current CO2 concentration. Many experiments convincingly demonstrate, in this regard, that a doubling of the air's CO2 concentration typically boosts the optimum temperature for plant photosynthesis by several degrees Centigrade, and that it raises the temperature at which plants experience heat-induced death by about the same amount, as is thoroughly documented and discussed in Idso et al.'s (2003) major CO2 Science report The Specter of Species Extinction: Will Global Warming Decimate Earth's Biosphere? (abbreviated as SSE). And, of course, extra CO2 in the air generally always leads to greater rates of plant photosynthesis and biomass production, as well as a heightened ability to successfully deal with most naturally-occurring environmental stresses and resource limitations (Idso and Idso, 1994).

As a result of these CO2-induced changes in their basic physiological behavior, earth's plants would not be eliminated from large portions of their current natural habitats near the heat-limited boundaries of their ranges in a CO2-enriched world of the future - even if temperatures were to rise as high as is unrealistically predicted by climate alarmists - because most plants, with the help of the extra CO2, would be able to tolerate much warmer living conditions than they do currently. Simultaneously, at the cold-limited boundaries of their present ranges, they would have an opportunity to expand into areas that warmed and thereby invited their colonization. Hence, with stable heat-limited boundaries and poleward- and upward-moving cold-limited boundaries, earth's plants in a CO2-enriched and warmer world would actually experience increases in the sizes of the territories they could successfully inhabit, making them not more likely but less likely to experience extinction.

Either not knowing or refusing to acknowledge these facts, Thomas et al. cited the similar warming-induced extinction papers of Root et al. (2003) and Parmesan and Yohe (2003) as the primary justification for their approach to the issue, apparently oblivious of the fact that the real-world observations contained in the host of studies these authors cited in support of their point of view actually argued against the validity of their mass extinction claims, as is demonstrated in exhaustive detail in CO2 Science's SSE report.

It is also rather strange that Thomas et al. attempted to justify their sweeping conclusions by acknowledging that climate change over the prior thirty years had been implicated in only a single "species-level extinction," citing the study of Pounds et al. (1999) in this regard. If they had read the SSE report, however, they would have learned that this claim was convincingly refuted by Lawton et al. (2001), who demonstrated that the cause of the putative extinction was not an increase in temperature brought on by increasing anthropogenic CO2 emissions, but rather a local upwind deforestation of adjacent lowlands that led to increased convective and orographic cloud bases that resulted in a reduced supply of moisture to the habitat area studied by Pounds et al.

In further challenging the contentions of Thomas et al. and their predecessors, the SSE report noted that with stable heat-limited boundaries and poleward- and upward-moving cold-limited boundaries, there would be more overlapping of species ranges in a CO2-enriched and warmer world, which would produce significant increases in local biodiversity. What is more, it is further demonstrated in that report, using the very same studies said by Root et al. (2003) and Parmesan and Yohe (2003) to imply the opposite, that what the SSE analysis suggested had indeed been observed to be the case in many real-world species surveys of both plants and animals, several of the scientific reports of which ironically included Thomas himself as an author!

A totally different analysis from that of the technique employed by Thomas et al. was provided by Stockwell (2004), who noted that the 19 authors' approach to the issue "ignores species that are currently threatened with extinction by non-climatic factors, and which could therefore benefit from an expanded potential habitat and so escape extinction in the new CO2/climate regime." For example, Stockwell noted that "a CO2- or climate-driven range expansion would clearly help species that are threatened with extinction due to increasing habitat loss attributable to expanding urbanization and agricultural activities; while it may help other species that are threatened with extinction by habitat fragmentation to cross geographical barriers that were previously insurmountable obstacles to them."

Stockwell further noted that "the no dispersal scenario also forces an unrealistic decrease in range with any climatic change that shifts habitat area without reducing it; while 'overfitting' reduces ranges even more, producing systematic errors on the order of 10-20%, particularly with smaller data sets, deficiencies in data sampling and modeling methods, and the inclusion of irrelevant variables (Stockwell and Peterson 2002a, 2002b, 2003)." In the study of Bakkenes et al. (2002), for example, Stockwell indicated that "two independent climate variables adequately explain 93% of the variation in their dependent variable; while the use of more climate variables ends up incorporating more random variation than it does actual signal, leading to a contraction of the climate envelope and a systematic bias towards smaller predicted ranges." It should come as no surprise, therefore, as Stockwell continued, "that in this study and that of Peterson et al. (2002) - which comprised two of the six major studies on which the analysis of Thomas et al. was based - the use of only two climate variables by the two studies yields extinction percentages of 7% and 9%, while the four additional studies upon which Thomas et al. rely (which use from 3 to 36 independent variables) yield extinction percentages ranging from 20% to 34%, consistent with what would be expected from errors associated with statistical overfitting."

Because ecological models are notoriously unreliable, the common-sense response, when extreme results such as those of Thomas et al. are encountered, would be to attempt to verify some aspect of them with independent data. However, in the words of Stockwell, "their single attempt to do so with a real-world extinction supposedly caused by global warming (Pounds et al., 1999) has been satisfactorily explained by changes in local weather patterns due to upwind deforestation of adjacent lowlands (Lawton et al., 2001)." Hence, Stockwell rightly concluded that "Thomas et al. have a dearth of pertinent hard data to support their contentions; and while the absence of evidence does not necessarily disprove a claim, the lack of any real extinction data to support the results of their analysis certainly suggests that the models they are using are not 'tried and true'."

Stockwell's final thoughts on the matter, therefore, were that "Thomas et al. (2004) seek to create the impression of impending ecological disaster due to CO2-induced global warming, claiming their results justify mandating reductions of greenhouse gas emissions," but he stated that their findings "are forced by the calculations, confounded with statistical bias, lack supporting real-world evidence, and are perforated with speculation," concluding that "their doctrine of 'massive extinction' is actually a case of 'massive extinction bias'."

Two years later, Parmesan (2006) published a review of 866 papers that addressed the subject of ecological and evolutionary responses to the global warming of the prior few decades, wherein new concerns had been raised about the ability of earth's many species of plants and animals to maintain a viable foothold on the planet if temperatures were to continue to rise. However, much of the evidence cited by Parmesan actually weighed heavily against this concern.

For starters, Parmesan noted that "most observations of climate-change responses have involved alterations of species' phenologies." She reported, for example, that many species had exhibited "advancement of spring events," such that there had been "a lengthening of vegetative growing season in the Northern Hemisphere," which is something most people would consider a positive phenomenon. She also reported that "summer photosynthetic activity increased from 1981-1991" - another positive response - and that the growing season throughout the United States "was unusually long during the warm period of the 1940s," but that "since 1996, growing season length has increased only in four of the coldest, most-northerly zones (42°-45° N latitude), not in the three warmest zones (32°-37° N latitude)," which makes one wonder if it was not warmer throughout most of the United States in the 1940s than it was at the end of the 20th century.

The negativity that Parmesan associated with these mostly-positive warming-induced phenological changes arises from the possibility that there may be "mismatches" across different trophic levels in natural ecosystems, such as between the time that each year's new crop of herbivores appears and the time of appearance of the plants they depend upon for food. Eleven plant-animal associations had been intensively studied in this regard; and in seven of them Parmesan said "they are more out of synchrony now than at the start of the studies."

It must be noted, however, that there will always be winners and losers (some big and some small) in such animal-plant matchups during periods of climate change, and maybe a whole lot of "draws." In addition, it must be emphasized that the current paucity of pertinent data precludes a valid determination of which of the three alternatives is the most likely to predominate. As one example of a "big loser" in the face of recent global warming, Parmesan reported that "field studies have documented that butterfly-host asynchrony has resulted directly in population crashes and extinctions." But population extinctions are not the same as species extinctions; and she acknowledged that the local extinctions to which she referred had merely resulted in "shifting [the] mean location of extant populations northward [in the Northern Hemisphere] and upward."

The second of the major biological responses to global warming addressed by Parmesan was that of species migration, which is often touted as leading to range restrictions that make it difficult for species to maintain the "critical mass" required for their continued existence. For example, it is typically claimed that global warming will be so fast and furious that many species will not be able to migrate poleward in latitude or upward in altitude rapidly enough to avoid extinction, or that if located on mountaintops they will actually run out of suitable new habitat to which they can flee when faced with rising temperatures. In this respect, Parmesan essentially rehashed the earlier findings of the meta-analyses of Root et al. (2003) and Parmesan and Yohe (2003), which predominantly portrayed species ranges as expanding in the face of rising temperatures, since warming provides a huge opportunity for species to expand their ranges at their cold-limited boundaries while often providing a much reduced impetus for them to retreat at the heat-limited boundaries of their ranges. An example of this phenomenon that was cited by Parmesan occurred in the Netherlands between 1979 and 2001, where she reported that "77 new epiphytic lichens colonized from the south, nearly doubling the total number of species for that community."

Also on the positive side of things, Parmesan reported that "increasing numbers of researchers use analyses of current intraspecific genetic variation for climate tolerance to argue for a substantive role of evolution in mitigating negative impacts of future climate change," additionally noting that the fossil record contains "a plethora of data indicating local adaptation to climate change at specific sites." In addition, she stated that during earlier periods of dramatic climate change there is evidence that many existing species "appeared to shift their geographical distributions as though tracking the changing climate." Interestingly, in both of these situations the outcomes were clearly positive.

The greatest push by Parmesan for a supremely negative consequence of global warming occurred when she said that "documented rapid loss of habitable climate space makes it no surprise that the first extinctions of entire species attributed to global warming are mountain-restricted species," that "many cloud-forest-dependent amphibians have declined or gone extinct on a mountain in Costa Rica (Pounds et al., 1999, 2005)," and that "among harlequin frogs in Central and South American tropics, an astounding 67% have disappeared over the past 20-30 years," citing Pounds et al. (2006) as authority for this latter contention. In carefully reviewing these claims, however, they appear to be far from conclusive.

In the first place, all of the extinctions and disappearances of the amphibian species to which Parmesan refers appear to have nothing at all to do with "rapid loss of habitable climate space" at the tops of mountains. In fact, as noted by Pounds et al. (2006), the loss of these species "is largest at middle elevations, even though higher-elevation species generally have smaller ranges." In addition, as noted in an earlier review of the subject by Stuart et al. (2004), many of the amphibian species declines "took place in seemingly pristine habitats," which had not been lost to global warming nor even modestly altered. Last of all, the extinctions and species disappearances appear not to be due to rising temperatures per se, but to the fungal disease chytridiomycosis, which is caused by Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, as noted by both Stuart et al. (2004) and Pounds et al. (2006).

In a final attempt to circumnavigate these several dilemmas, Pounds et al. (2006) strove mightily to implicate global warming as the cause of Batrachochytrium's increased virulence in recent years. So convoluted and tenuous was their reasoning, however, that they repeatedly referred to their view of the subject as being but a hypothesis. In addition, in their paper's Supplementary Information, they said that their goal was merely "to stimulate thought and generate ideas concerning the altitudinal patterns of thermal environments, the recent temperature shifts, and the interactions between Batrachochytrium and its amphibian hosts," with the hope that "future experimental studies should examine these ideas, while also considering the influence of other climatic changes such as shifts in precipitation and humidity." Last of all, and most damaging to their thesis, is the almost unbelievable fact, as reported by Bosch et al. (2006), that "Pounds et al. (2006) did not focus on showing whether the pathogen was present, or causing disease, in the species studied, raising questions as to whether infection by B. dendrobatidis [was] actually involved in the observed species declines."

Clearly, the last word on this subject has yet to be written; but Pounds et al. (2006) nevertheless stated as factual that "with climate change promoting infectious disease and eroding biodiversity, the urgency of reducing greenhouse-gas concentrations is now undeniable," indicating their total unwillingness to even entertain the possibility that a different point of view might have merit. Likewise, Parmesan (2006) stated that "range-restricted species, particularly polar and mountaintop species, show more-severe range contractions than other groups and have been the first groups in which whole species have gone extinct due to recent climate change," in a claim that is patently inconsistent with known facts, as indicated above, and as will be made clear in subsequent sections of this review.

In another paper devoted to modeling plant and animal responses to global warming, Dormann (2007) felt it important to "review the main shortcomings of species distribution models and species distribution projections," such as those employed and derived by Thomas et al.; and in doing so, he carefully analyzed three aspects of what he described as "problems associated with species distribution models."

The first of these aspects dealt with general species distribution model issues, under which Dorman listed four major problems. The second was extrapolation issues, under which he listed five major problems; while the third was statistical issues, under which he listed six major problems. And after all of these problems were appropriately analyzed, Dormann concluded that shortcomings associated with climate-alarmist analyses of the present distributions of species "are so numerous and fundamental that common ecological sense should caution us against putting much faith in relying on their findings for further extrapolations," in contrast to what had routinely been done in studies such as that of Thomas et al., the latter of whose methods and findings, according to Dormann, "have been challenged for conceptual and statistical reasons" by many other researchers. And so it was that Dormann thus concluded that climate-alarmist "projections of species distributions are not merely generating hypotheses to be tested by later data," they are being presented as "predictions of tomorrow's diversity, and policy makers and the public will interpret them as forecasts, similar to forecasts about tomorrow's weather," which he clearly felt was both unwarranted and unwise. And how right he was!

An outstanding example of such testimony was presented on 26 April 2007 before the Select Committee of Energy Independence and Global Warming of the U.S. House of Representatives entitled "Dangerous Human-Made Interference with Climate," in which NASA's James Hansen stated that life in alpine regions is "in danger of being pushed off the planet" in response to continued anthropogenic-induced global warming. Why? Because that's what all the species distribution models or SDMs were predicting at that time. Subsequently, however, a set of new-and-improved models raised a host of serious questions about this overly zealous contention.

The concept behind the new models was described in some detail by Randin et al. (2009) in the pages of Global Change Biology, where they wrote that "the mean temperature interpolated from local stations at a 20-meter resolution contains more variability than expressed by the mean temperature within a 50-km x 50-km grid cell in which variation in elevation is poorly represented." Or as they described it in another part of their paper, "climatic differences along elevation gradients, as apparent at 25-m x 25-m resolution allow plant species to find suitable climatic conditions at higher elevation under climate change," whereas "models at a 10 x 10' resolution [10 minutes of latitude x ten minutes of longitude, which correspond to 16-km x 16-km cells in the Swiss Alps, where they carried out their analyses] reflect the mean climatic conditions within the cell, and thus provide imprecise values of the probability of occurrence of species along a thermal gradient."

In testing this "local high-elevation habitat persistence hypothesis," as they described it, the group of Swiss, French and Danish researchers assessed "whether climate change-induced habitat losses predicted at the European scale (10 x 10' grid cells) are also predicted from local-scale data and modeling (25-m x 25-m grid cells)." And in doing so, they found that for 78 mountain species modeled at both European and local scales, the "local-scale models predict persistence of suitable habitats in up to 100% of species that were predicted by a European-scale model to lose all their suitable habitats in the area."

In discussing their findings, Randin et al. suggested that the vastly different results they obtained when using fine and coarse grid scales might help to explain what they called the Quaternary Conundrum, i.e. "why fewer species than expected went extinct during glacial periods when models predict so many extinctions with similar amplitude of climate change (Botkin et al., 2007)." In addition, they noted that "coarse-resolution predictions based on SDMs are commonly used in the preparation of reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change," which are then used by "conservation planners, managers, and other decision makers to anticipate biodiversity losses in alpine and other systems across local, regional, and larger scales."

In light of this large-scale usage of coarse-grid analyses of species responses to climate change, it is important that both public and private policies are not based on the findings of such studies. All they do is provide a pseudo-scientific basis for folks such as NASA's James Hansen to feed their faulty predictions to decision makers at the highest levels of government - both in the United States and elsewhere - all in the guise of what they portray to be sound science, which the model results clearly are not.

Contemporaneously, Seidel et al. (2009) wrote that "future predictions of climatic change and impacts on mountain ecosystems are frequently based on the most proximate low elevation data or on extrapolations from other mountain regions." However, they indicated that "using surrogate climatic data to describe potential responses by mountain biota can result in compromised conclusions." As one example of this fact, they cited what they called "the assumption that alpine ecosystems may be at great risk," as most climate alarmists vociferously contend they are because of what they contend is unprecedented global warming.

Working at Mount Washington (44°16'N, 71°18'W, the highest point in the northeastern United States), Seidel et al. compared seasonal and annual temperature trends, growing and thawing degree-day trends, and trends in two indices of snow season length for the summit (1914 m a.s.l.) and for Pinkham Notch (a mid-elevation site on the mountain's eastern side), based on data for the period 1935-2003. And in doing so, the seven scientists determined that at the mid-elevation site "there is a statistically significant warming in both annual and summer temperatures, with greater warming than that observed on the summit and less than that reported for lower elevations in the region." In addition, they found that summit temperatures, "though trending towards warming, do not exhibit a statistically significant change." What is more, they said there was evidence that "resistance to climate warming at the higher elevations on Mount Washington has considerable tenure," citing the work of Spear (1989), who, "using pollen and plant macrofossil records from Mount Washington and surroundings, concluded that since 5000 years BP, the subalpine forest and treeline-alpine ecotone boundary on Mount Washington has not exhibited demonstrable shifts."

One explanation for this mountaintop "climate stasis" may be related to the fact that Grant et al. (2005) estimated that "the summit of Mount Washington experiences free-atmosphere (troposphere) conditions on 50% of days in both summer and winter," so that "the summit exhibits a weak but not statistically significant warming trend, because during these conditions the summit would not necessarily be coupled with events observed from the surrounding regional lower elevation trends," as Seidel et al. described it. And, therefore, in the final paragraph of their paper, Seidel et al. said that their results "support the conclusion that some mountains may only weakly follow regional low elevation surface climatic trends and may exhibit resistance to climatic warming with elevation."

Also with a paper published concurrently was Nogues-Bravo (2009), who wrote that climate envelope models (CEMs) - which are often employed to predict species responses to global warming (and whether or not a species will be able to survive projected temperature increases) - "are sensitive to [1] theoretical assumptions, to [2] model classes and to [3] projections in non-analogous climates, among other issues." So how appropriate are CEMs for this particular purpose, i.e., determining whether or not a particular species will be driven to extinction by hypothesized planetary warming?

In an exercise that addressed this important question, Nogues-Bravo reviewed the scientific literature pertaining to the issue; and he found that "the studies reviewed: (1) rarely test the theoretical assumptions behind niche modeling such as the stability of species climatic niches through time and the equilibrium of species with climate; (2) they only use one model class (72% of the studies) and one palaeoclimatic reconstruction (62.5%) to calibrate their models; (3) they do not check for the occurrence of non-analogous climates (97%); and (4) they do not use independent data to validate the models (72%)." And in commenting on these findings, the Danish researcher stated that "ignoring the theoretical assumptions behind niche modeling and using inadequate methods for hindcasting," may well produce "a cascade of errors and naďve ecological and evolutionary inferences." Hence, he concluded "there are a wide variety of challenges that CEMs must overcome in order to improve the reliability of their predictions through time." And until these challenges are met, climate-alarmist contentions of impending species extinctions must be considered little more than guesswork.

During this same time period, several new-and-improved models began raising some serious questions about overly zealous climate-alarmist contentions, as described in a "perspective" published in Science by Willis and Bhagwat (2009). The two researchers - Kathy Willis from the UK's Long-Term Ecology Laboratory of Oxford University's Centre for the Environment, and Shonil Bhagwat from Norway's University of Bergen - raised a warning flag about the older models, stating "their coarse spatial scales fail to capture topography or 'microclimatic buffering' and they often do not consider the full acclimation capacity of plants and animals," citing the analysis of Botkin et al. (2007) in this regard.

As an example of the first of these older-model deficiencies, Willis and Bhagwat reported that for alpine plant species growing in the Swiss Alps, "a coarse European-scale model (with 16 km by 16 km grid cells) predicted a loss of all suitable habitats during the 21st century, whereas a model run using local-scale data (25 m by 25 m grid cells) predicted persistence of suitable habitats for up to 100% of plant species," as was shown to be the case by Randin et al. (2009). In addition, the two Europeans noted that Luoto and Heikkinen (2008) "reached a similar conclusion in their study of the predictive accuracy of bioclimatic envelope models on the future distribution of 100 European butterfly species," finding that "a model that included climate and topographical heterogeneity (such as elevational range) predicted only half of the species losses in mountainous areas for the period from 2051 to 2080 in comparison to a climate-only model."

In the case of the older models' failure to consider the capacity of plants and animals to acclimate to warmer temperatures, Willis and Bhagwat wrote that "many studies have indicated that increased atmospheric CO2 affects photosynthesis rates and enhances net primary productivity - more so in tropical than in temperate regions - yet previous climate-vegetation simulations did not take this into account." As an example of the significance of this neglected phenomenon, they cited the study of Lapola et al. (2009), who developed a new vegetation model for tropical South America, the results of which indicated that "when the CO2 fertilization effects are considered, they overwhelm the impacts arising from temperature," so that "rather than the large-scale die-back predicted previously, tropical rainforest biomes remain the same or [are] substituted by wetter and more productive biomes." This phenomenon is described in more detail by Idso and Idso (2009), who reviewed the findings of many studies that have demonstrated the tremendous capacity for both plants and animals to actually evolve on a timescale commensurate with predicted climate change in such a way as to successfully adjust to projected warmer conditions.

"Another complexity," however, as Willis and Bhagwat described it, is the fact that "over 75% of the earth's terrestrial biomes now show evidence of alteration as a result of human residence and land use," which has resulted in "a highly fragmented landscape" that has been hypothesized to make it especially difficult for the preservation of species. Nevertheless, they reported that Prugh et al. (2008) "compiled and analyzed raw data from previous research on the occurrence of 785 animal species in >12,000 discrete habitat fragments on six continents," and that they found that "in many cases, fragment size and isolation were poor predictors of occupancy," adding that "this ability of species to persist in what would appear to be a highly undesirable and fragmented landscape has also been recently demonstrated in West Africa," where "in a census on the presence of 972 forest butterflies over the past 16 years, Larsen [2008] found that despite an 87% reduction in forest cover, 97% of all species ever recorded in the area are still present."

Moving from land to water, Brown et al. (2010) introduced their contribution to the subject by noting that "climate change is altering the rate and distribution of primary production in the world's oceans," which phenomenon "plays a fundamental role in structuring marine food webs (Hunt and McKinnell, 2006; Shurin et al., 2006)," which are "critical to maintaining biodiversity and supporting fishery catches." Hence, they were keen to examine what the future might hold in this regard, noting that "effects of climate-driven production change on marine ecosystems and fisheries can be explored using food web models that incorporate ecological interactions such as predation and competition," citing the work of Cury et al. (2008), which is what they thus set out to do.

Brown et al. first used the output of an ocean general circulation model driven by a "plausible" greenhouse gas emissions scenario (IPCC 2007 scenario A2) to calculate changes in climate over a 50-year time horizon, the results of which were then fed into a suite of models for calculating primary production of lower trophic levels (phytoplankton, macroalgae, seagrass and benthic microalgae), after which the results of the latter set of calculations were used as input to "twelve existing Ecopath with Ecosim (EwE) dynamic marine food web models to describe different Australian marine ecosystems," which protocol ultimately predicted "changes in fishery catch, fishery value, biomass of animals of conservation interest, and indicators of community composition." So what was learned?

The seventeen scientists state that under the IPCC's "plausible climate change scenario, primary production will increase around Australia" with "overall positive linear responses of functional groups to primary production change," and that "generally this benefits fisheries catch and value and leads to increased biomass of threatened marine animals such as turtles and sharks," adding that the calculated responses "are robust to the ecosystem type and the complexity of the model used." More particularly, Brown et al. concluded that the primary production increases suggested by their work to result from future IPCC-envisioned greenhouse gas emissions and their calculated impacts on climate "will provide opportunities to recover overfished fisheries, increase profitability of fisheries and conserve threatened biodiversity," which is an incredibly positive set of consequences to result from something the world's climate alarmists claim to be an unmitigated climatic catastrophe.

Back on land, Scherrer and Korner (2010) returned to the familiar topic of terrestrial plant responses to "climate warming scenarios [that] predict higher than average warming in most alpine areas," where NASA's James Hansen has declared that life is in danger of being "pushed off the planet" as the earth warms, as it has "no place else to go."

In a study designed to test this concept, the two researchers employed thermal imagery and microloggers to assess the fine-scale detail of both surface and root zone temperatures in three different temperate-alpine and subarctic-alpine regions: one in the Swiss Alps, one in North Sweden and one in North Norway, all of which sites were located on steep mountain slopes above the climatic tree line, and all of which exhibited a rich microtopography but no change in macroexposure. This work revealed, in the words of the two Swiss scientists, that "microclimatic variation on clear sky days was strong within all slopes, with 8.4 ± 2.5°C (mean ± SD) surface temperature differences persisting over several hours per day along horizontal (i.e., equal elevation) transects," which differences, as they described them, "are larger than the temperature change predicted by the IPCC."

In discussing their findings, Scherrer and Korner said they were "important in the context of climate change," because they show that "species do not necessarily need to climb several hundred meters in elevation to escape the warmth." Quite often, in fact, they said that a "few meters of horizontal shift will do," so that for plants "unable or too slow to adapt to a warmer climate, thermal microhabitat mosaics offer both refuge habitats as well as stepping stones as atmospheric temperatures rise." More broadly, they also stated that their data "challenge the stereotype of particularly sensitive and vulnerable alpine biota with respect to climatic warming," noting that "high elevation terrain may in fact be more suitable to protect biodiversity under changing climatic conditions than most other, lower elevation types of landscapes." Thus, in what would appear to be a bit of good advice to all - and James Hansen in particular - the two researchers said they "advocate a more cautious treatment of this matter."

Concurrently, in an overview of a symposium entitled "Molecules to Migration: Pressures of Life" - which was held in Africa on the Maasai Mara National Reserve of Kenya - Fuller et al. (2010) wrote that the theoretical approach most commonly used to predict future species distributions in a CO2-enriched and warmer world (i.e. the "climate envelope" approach) assumes that "animals and plants can persist only in areas with an environment similar to the one they currently inhabit." However, they stated that this approach "typically ignores the potential physiological capacity of animals to respond to climate change," and they thus went on to explain how "behavioral, autonomic, and morphological modifications such as nocturnal activity, selective brain cooling, and body color may potentially serve as buffers to the consequences of climate change."

The six scientists began by noting that all organisms "have the capacity to adapt to changing environmental conditions both by [1] phenotypic plasticity within a life span and by [2] microevolution over a few life spans." In the latter instance, they noted "there is evidence that microevolution - that is, heritable shifts in allele frequencies in a population (without speciation) - has occurred in response to climate warming," citing Bradshaw and Holzapfel (2006, 2008). And in the first case, they said that phenotypic plasticity "is likely to represent the first response of individual organisms," noting that "adaptive changes in phenotype induced by climate change have been documented, for example, in the morphology and phenology of birds (Charmantier et al., 2008) and mammals (Reale et al., 2003; Linnen et al., 2009; Maloney et al., 2009; Ozgul et al., 2009)." So what are some examples?

Fuller et al. first cited the work of Pincebourde et al. (2009), who "showed that intertidal sea stars can behaviorally regulate their thermal inertia by increasing their rate of water uptake during high tide on hot days," which is "a response that affords protection against extreme aerial temperatures during subsequent low tides." Next, they noted that "exposure of humans to hot conditions on successive days induces an increase in sweat capacity (Nielsen et al., 1993)." And they stated that "other adaptations also ensue, including plasma volume expansion and decreased electrolyte content of sweat," such that "a typical unacclimatized male, who can produce about 600 ml of sweat per hour, can double that output with heat acclimatization (Henane and Valatx, 1973)," which "phenotypic adaptation (in this case, heat acclimatization) can alter physiological tolerance (the risk of heat illness)."

The Australian, South African and U.S. scientists also cited several studies - Zervanos and Hadley (1973), Belovsky and Jordan (1978), Grenot (1992), Hayes and Krausman (1993), Berger et al. (1999), Dussault et al. (2004), Maloney et al. (2005) and Hetem et al. (2010) - of large herbivores that "increase nocturnal activity in the face of high diurnal heat loads." And they indicated that "another adaptation that may enhance plasticity in response to aridity that is available to oryx and other artiodactyls, as well as members of the cat family (Mitchell et al., 1987), is selective brain cooling," whereby cooling the hypothalamus and the temperature sensors that drive evaporative heat loss "inhibits evaporative heat loss and conserves body water (Kuhnen, 1997; Fuller et al., 2007)," which result "is likely to be particularly valuable to animals under concurrent heat stress and dehydration." Last of all, they suggested that maintaining genetic diversity for a trait like fur or feather color that adapts various organisms to different thermal environments "may provide important plasticity for future climate change," citing Millien et al. (2006), while adding that "there is already evidence that, over the past 30 years as the climate has warmed, the proportion of dark-colored to light-colored Soay sheep has decreased on islands in the outer Hebrides," citing Maloney et al. (2009).

Clearly, therefore, much of earth's animal life is well endowed with inherent abilities to cope, either consciously or unconsciously, with climate changes over a period of a few generations, a single generation, or even in real time, which capacity is something totally foreign to the lifeless "climate envelope" approach that has typically been used by climate alarmists to project species migrations - or extinctions - in a potentially future warmer world.

Also with a paper published in the same year were Willis et al. (2010), who discussed the IPCC (2007) "predicted climatic changes for the next century" - i.e., their contentions that "global temperatures will increase by 2-4°C and possibly beyond, sea levels will rise (~1 m ± 0.5 m), and atmospheric CO2 will increase by up to 1000 ppm" - noting that it is "widely suggested that the magnitude and rate of these changes will result in many plants and animals going extinct," citing studies that suggested that "within the next century, over 35% of some biota will have gone extinct (Thomas et al., 2004; Solomon et al., 2007) and there will be extensive die-back of the tropical rainforest due to climate change (e.g. Huntingford et al., 2008)."

On the other hand, Willis et al. indicated that some biologists and climatologists subsequently pointed out that "many of the predicted increases in climate have happened before, in terms of both magnitude and rate of change (e.g. Royer, 2008; Zachos et al., 2008), and yet biotic communities have remained remarkably resilient (Mayle and Power, 2008) and in some cases thrived (Svenning and Condit, 2008)." But they went on to say that those who mention these things are often "placed in the 'climate-change denier' category," although the purpose for pointing out these facts is simply to present "a sound scientific basis for understanding biotic responses to the magnitudes and rates of climate change predicted for the future through using the vast data resource that we can exploit in fossil records."

Going on to do just that, Willis et al. focused on "intervals in time in the fossil record when atmospheric CO2 concentrations increased up to 1200 ppm, temperatures in mid- to high-latitudes increased by greater than 4°C within 60 years, and sea levels rose by up to 3 m higher than present," describing studies of past biotic responses that indicate "the scale and impact of the magnitude and rate of such climate changes on biodiversity." And what emerged from those studies, as they described it, was "evidence for rapid community turnover, migrations, development of novel ecosystems and thresholds from one stable ecosystem state to another." And, most importantly in this regard, they reported that "there is very little evidence for broad-scale extinctions due to a warming world."

In concluding, the Norwegian, Swedish and UK researchers thus stated that "based on such evidence we urge some caution in assuming broad-scale extinctions of species will occur due solely to climate changes of the magnitude and rate predicted for the next century," reiterating that "the fossil record indicates remarkable biotic resilience to wide amplitude fluctuations in climate."

Following hard on the heels of their study of one year earlier, Scherrer and Korner (2011) - while working in the temperate-alpine zone near Furka Pass in the Swiss central Alps on three steep mountain slopes with north-north-west, west and south-south-east exposures (all located well above the climatic tree line) - used high-resolution infrared thermometry and large numbers of small data loggers "to assess the spatial and temporal variation of plant-surface and ground temperatures as well as snow-melt patterns for 889 plots distributed across the three alpine slopes," with the goal of identifying "thermal habitat preferences in alpine plant species across mosaics of topographically controlled micro-habitats," in order to see just how far (and, consequently, just how fast) a plant might have to migrate to remain within its zone of livability in a rapidly warming world.

Within their study area, the two Swiss scientists observed a substantial variation between micro-habitats in seasonal mean soil temperature (ΔT = 7.2°C), plant-surface temperature (ΔT = 10.5°C) and season length (>32 days), with meter-scale thermal contrasts significantly exceeding IPCC warming projections for the next hundred years. And in discussing their findings, the two researchers thus stated that their data "indicate a great risk of overestimating alpine habitat losses in isotherm-based model scenarios" - such as the climate envelope approach - concluding, in fact, that "due to their topographic variability, alpine landscapes are likely to be safer places for most species than lowland terrain in a warming world."

In a similar type of study, Suggitt et al. (2011) wrote that "because individuals experience heterogeneous microclimates in the landscape, species sometimes survive where the average background climate appears unsuitable," which phenomenon is something that the vast majority of bioclimate studies do not consider in their analyses. Therefore, in an effort designed to illustrate these facts, Suggitt et al. recorded temperatures in numerous micro-sites at two locations where the vegetation was relatively homogenous (the Lake Vyrnwy Royal Society for the Protection of Birds reserve in Wales, and High Peak in the Peak District National Park in England) in September 2007 and January 2008, as well as in numerous micro-sites within three different habitat types (woodland, heathland and grassland) located within Skipwith Common in North Yorkshire, UK, in September 2008 and January 2009. And what did they find?

The seven scientists reported that "thermal differences between habitats, and slope and aspects, were of the same order of magnitude as projected increases in global average surface temperatures," and they indicated that in some cases, microclimate variation exceeded estimates of warming under all of the IPCC's emissions scenarios, "which ranged from 1.1 to a 6.4°C rise in global mean temperatures (IPCC, 2007)." And as a result, they concluded that "these large temperature differences provide opportunities for individual organisms that are able to move short distances to escape unfavorable microclimates," and, therefore, that "populations may shift microhabitats (slopes, aspects and vegetation density) in response to inter-annual variation in the climate," leading them to suggest that "the incorporation of habitat and topographical information is essential for species that (a) have some level of flexibility in their habitat associations, and (b) are at least partially limited by temperature extremes," bearing witness to the fact that in the real world of nature, the 'climate envelope' approach is not adequate for describing how different species will respond to future changes in climate, such as the global warming that is predicted by state-of-the-art climate models.

In a related paper from the same year, Dobrowski (2011) wrote that "the response of biota to climate change of the past is pertinent to understanding present day biotic response to anthropogenic warming," and he said that "one such adaptive response garnering increased attention is the purported utilization of climatic refugia by biota."

Historically, these refugia, in Dobrowski's words, were "typically thought of as large regions in which organisms took refuge during glacial advances and retreats during the Pleistocene, which then acted as sources for colonization during more favorable climatic periods," but he stated that "in addition to these large-scale refugia, there is compelling evidence that climatic refugia occurred at local scales during the Last Glacial Maximum and were also utilized during interglacial warm periods, including the current interglacial," citing Willis and Van Andel (2004) and Birks and Willis (2008).

Further with respect to this refugia size differential, Dobrowski noted that "modeling using global climate models (GCMs) and regional climate models (RCMs) is done at scales of tens to hundreds of kilometers, whereas research suggests that temperature varies at scales of < 1 km in areas of complex terrain (Urban et al., 2000; Fridley, 2009)." In fact, he reported that "Hijmans et al. (2005) showed that there can be temperature variation of up to 33°C within one 18-km raster cell." In addition, he noted that "GCMs and RCMs can simulate free-air conditions but fail to accurately estimate surface climate due to terrain features that decouple upper atmospheric conditions from boundary layer effects (Grotch and Maccracken, 1991; Pepin and Seidel, 2005)."

The University of Montana (USA) scientist also noted that many researchers "have recently commented on the potential of topographically driven meso- or micro-climatic variation in mountain environments for providing refugia habitats for populations of species threatened by climate warming," citing the work of Luoto and Heikkinen (2008), Randin et al. (2009) and Seo et al. (2009). And he said that these researchers "point to lower rates of predicted habitat loss and lower predicted extinction probabilities from species distribution models when using finely resolved climate data as compared with coarse scaled data," stating that "they suggest that this is evidence of 'local scale refugia' (Randin et al., 2009) or 'reserves to shelter species' (Seo et al., 2009)."

In concluding his review of the subject, Dobrowski thus indicated that "microrefugia are likely to be found in terrain positions that promote the consistent decoupling of the boundary layer from the free-atmosphere," and that "these terrain positions are likely to have climate states and trends that are decoupled from regional averages," which is "a requisite for microrefugia to persist through time." Therefore, he concluded by stating that "convergent environments (local depressions, valley bottoms, sinks, and basins) are primary candidates for microrefugia based on these criteria," which observations bode well for the once-thought-to-be-impossible survival of many species of plants and animals within the context of a possible further warming of the planet.

In another contemporary study of the subject, Denny et al. (2011) introduced the rationale for their work by noting that rising concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases had been "causing a worrisome increase in globally averaged air temperature (IPCC, 2007)," while adding, as a result, that the scientific community had "mobilized to predict the ecological effects of consequent climate change." And in this regard they suggested that the intertidal zone of wave-swept rocky shores could be "a potentially useful system in which to monitor, experimentally manipulate, and possibly forecast the ecological consequences of impending changes in environmental temperature."

Working at Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove, California, USA, Denny et al., as they described it, "conducted intensive field experiments to quantify inter-individual variation in body temperature among organisms and surrogate organisms at a typical intertidal site," after which they used the data they collected "to characterize micro-scale variation in potential thermal stress," noting that "variegated topography and the ever-changing pattern of the tides can cause organisms in close proximity to experience dramatically different thermal environments," citing the studies of Harley and Helmuth (2003), Denny et al. (2006), Harley (2008) and Miller et al. (2009). And in the course of their investigation, they discovered that "the within-site variation in extreme temperatures rivaled (and in some cases greatly exceeded) variation among sites along fourteen degrees of latitude (1660 km of Pacific shoreline)," which observation suggested, in their words, that "small-scale spatial variation in temperature can reduce the chance of local extirpation that otherwise would accompany an increase in average habitat temperature or an increase in the frequency of extreme thermal events."

Denny et al. thus concluded that "by highlighting the important role of within-site variability (both of temperature and tolerance) in the persistence of intertidal populations," their study should "foster further research into the biophysical, physiological, behavioral, and genetic interactions underlying ecological dynamics on wave-washed shores" - with analogous implications for most other ecosystems - which approach to the subject is a far, far cry from the standard climate envelope approach that had typically been used by the world's climate alarmists in drawing their chilling conclusions regarding the impending extinctions of a goodly portion of the planet's plant and animal species.

Also working contemporaneously in the near-shore marine environment were Helmuth et al. (2011), who wrote that "virtually every physiological process is affected by the temperature of an organism's body, and ... with the advent of new molecular and biochemical techniques for studying organismal responses to thermal stress ... there has been a renewed interest in the effects of temperature extremes on the ecology and physiology of organisms given the observed and forecasted impacts of global climate change." So thus inspired, and using a simple heat budget model that was ground-truthed with approximately five years of in situ temperature data obtained by biomimetic sensors, the six scientists "explored the sensitivity of aerial (low tide) mussel body temperature at three tidal elevations to changes in air temperature, solar radiation, wind speed, wave height, and the timing of low tide at a site in central California USA (Bodega Bay)."

In analyzing the data they collected, Helmuth et al. discovered that "while increases in air temperature and solar radiation can significantly alter the risk of exposure to stressful conditions, especially at upper intertidal elevations, patterns of risk can be substantially reduced by convective cooling such that even moderate increases in mean wind speed (~1 m/sec) can theoretically counteract the effects of substantial (2.5°C) increases in air temperature." They also found that "shifts in the timing of low tide (+1 hour), such as occur [when] moving to different locations along the coast of California, can have very large impacts on sensitivity to increases in air temperature," noting that "depending on the timing of low tide, at some sites increases in air temperature will primarily affect animals in the upper intertidal zone, while at other sites animals will be affected across all tidal elevations." In addition, they discovered that "body temperatures are not always elevated even when low tide air temperatures are extreme," due to "the combined effects of convective cooling and wave splash." And noting that the timing and magnitude of organismal warming "will be highly variable at coastal sites, and can be driven to a large extent by local oceanographic and meteorological processes," they strongly cautioned "against the use of single environmental metrics such as air temperature" for "making projections of the impacts of climate change."

Also concurrently studying marine fauna were Poloczanska et al. (2011), who resurveyed a historical census of rocky-shore marine fauna that had been conducted in the 1940s and 1950s at 22 rocky-shore sites that were located between 23 and 35°S latitude, which stretched across 1500 km of coastline, in order to determine if there had been subsequent latitudinal changes in the distribution and abundance of intertidal marine species consistent with global climate change along Australia's east coast, which region, as they demonstrated, had "undergone rapid warming, with increases in temperature of ~1.5°C over the past 60 years." This work revealed that of the 37 species they encountered that had distributional data available from both time periods, "only six species showed poleward shifts consistent with predictions of global climate change." Four others actually moved in the opposite direction "inconsistent with expectations under climate change," while the rest "showed no significant changes in range edges." And in discussing the roles of wave exposure, local currents and the presence of large sand islands, the seven scientists stated that it was the combination of those factors - and "not temperature" - that was "the primary factor influencing biogeographic distributions along the subtropical east coast of Australia."

Supporting this conclusion were the contemporaneous findings of Seabra et al. (2011), who determined how it is that intertidal marine species can easily withstand significant climatic warming without having to migrate poleward. This they did by examining the relative magnitudes of local-scale versus large-scale latitudinal patterns of the intertidal body temperatures of robolimpets: autonomous temperature sensor/loggers mimicking the visual aspect and temperature trajectories of real limpets, which were built as described by Lima and Wethey (2009). These temperatures were measured at thirty-minute intervals for recurring periods of 170 days at 13 exposed or moderately exposed rocky shores along 1500 km of the Atlantic coast of the Iberian Peninsula, where they were attached to steep rocky surfaces - both north-facing (typically shaded) and south-facing (sun-exposed) - at three different tidal heights covering the entire vertical range inhabited by real-life limpets.

The "most relevant finding" of their study, in the words of the four researchers, was that "sunny versus shaded differences were consistently larger than the variability associated with [a] the seasons, [b] shore-specific characteristics (topography, orientation, wave exposure, etc.) and [c] shore level."

Seabra et al.'s findings emphasized the importance of analyzing temperature variability at scales relevant to the organisms being studied, "since the usage of sea surface temperature (SST) derived from remotely sensed data to model the distribution of intertidal species may be missing key environmental features," especially since their results "clearly show that other factors than SST play a much stronger role in determining the body temperatures of these organisms." They also suggested that "the observed temperature variability may explain the weak correlations found in many studies modeling the distribution of intertidal species using SST data (e.g. Lima et al., 2007b), which negatively impacts attempts of forecasting distributional changes in response to predicted climate warming."

Seabra et al. additionally concluded that "habitat heterogeneity as determined by surface orientation and, to a lesser extent, height on the shore may provide thermal refugia allowing species to occupy habitats apparently inhospitable when considering only average temperatures," and they stated that "this may be important for understanding range shifts contrary to global warming predictions (e.g. Lima et al., 2007a, 2009; Hilbish et al., 2010)." Thus, they emphasized once again that "thermal heterogeneity within habitats must be fully understood in order to interpret patterns of biogeographic response to climate change." And if that is done correctly, it would appear that the "doom-and-gloom" predictions of the world's climate alarmists, as regards species extinctions in a warming world, may in reality be not all that "doomy and gloomy."

In yet another study from the same year, Sears et al. (2011) analyzed how spatial heterogeneity can impact biological responses to thermal landscapes at scales that are more relevant to organisms than are the (much larger) scales implied by standard climate envelopes, which they did by examining the effects of topographic relief on the range of operative temperatures that are available for behavioral thermoregulation within various parts of an area described by a given climate envelope. And in doing so, they found that "empirical studies alone suggest that the operative temperatures of many organisms vary by as much as 10-20°C on a local scale, depending on vegetation, geology, and topography," while noting that even this variation in abiotic factors "ignores thermoregulatory behaviors that many animals use to balance heat loads."

Then, through a set of simulations of these phenomena, they demonstrated "how variability in elevational topography can attenuate the effects of warming climates." More specifically, they showed that (1) "identical climates can produce very different microclimates at the spatial scales experienced by organisms," that (2) "greater topographic relief should decrease selective pressure on thermal physiology for organisms that use behavior to avoid thermal extremes in heterogeneous environments," citing Huey et al. (2003), and that (3) "topographic diversity should buffer the impacts of climate change by facilitating behavioral thermoregulation." Furthermore, the results of their analysis suggested, as Sears et al. described it, that well-known relationships in biophysical ecology show that "no two organisms experience the same climate in the same way," and that "changing climates do not always impact organisms negatively." Hence, they concluded that "when coupled with thermoregulatory behavior, variation in topographic features can mask the acute effect of climate change in many cases," which renders the climate envelope approach to assessing species responses to climate change rather useless, if not even deceptive.

Also with a paper published in the same year were Coulson et al. (2011), who noted at the outset of their study that "environmental change has been observed to generate simultaneous responses in population dynamics, life history, gene frequencies, and morphology in a number of species," but who went on to wonder "how common are such eco-evolutionary responses to environmental change likely to be?" ... asking "are they inevitable [and] do they require a specific type of change?"

Coulson et al. addressed the above questions using theory and data obtained from a study of wolves in Yellowstone Park, which is located mostly in the U.S. state of Wyoming, but which also reaches into smaller parts of Montana and Idaho. More specifically, they "used survival and reproductive success data, body weights, and genotype at the K locus (CBD103, a β-defensin gene that has two alleles and determines coat color), which were collected from 280 radio-collared wolves living in the park between 1998 and 2009," to discover that "body weight and genotype at the K locus vary across U.S. wolf populations" and that both traits influence fitness, citing the studies of Schmitz and Kolenosky (1985), Anderson et al. (2009) and MacNulty et al. (2009).

More specifically, the four researchers reported that their results indicated that "for Yellowstone wolves, (i) environmental change will inevitably generate eco-evolutionary responses; (ii) change in the mean environment will have more profound population consequences than changes in the environmental variance; and (iii) environmental change affecting different functions can generate contrasting eco-evolutionary dynamics," which suggests, as they described it, that "accurate prediction of the consequences of environmental change will probably prove elusive." And that finding should clearly apply to all other animals as well, which further suggests that the "climate envelope" approach used by the world's climate alarmists to predict shifts in the ranges of earth's many animal species - and sometimes their extinction - in response to IPCC-predicted global warming fails to accurately describe the way real animals respond to climate change in the real world.

Finally moving forward in time, but only by a single year, Feurdean et al. (2012) introduced their study by stating that species distribution models that run at either finer scales (Trivedi et al., 2008; Randin et al., 2009) or including representations of plant demography (Hickler et al., 2009) and more accurate dispersal capability (Engler and Guisan, 2009) appear to predict a much smaller habitat and species loss in response to climate model predictions than do more coarse-scale models (Thomas et al., 2004; Thuiller et al., 2005; Araujo et al., 2008); and these observations prompted the German and Romanian researchers to conduct their own real-world empirical study of the subject. So what did they do?

In the words of Feurdean et al., "seven fossil pollen sequences from Romania situated at different elevations were analyzed to examine the effects of climate change on community composition and biodiversity between 15,000 and 10,500 cal. yr BP in this biogeographically sensitive region of Europe," because this period, as they described it, "was characterized by large-amplitude global climate fluctuations occurring on decadal to millennial time scales (Johnsen et al., 1992; Jouzel et al., 2007)," which enabled them to explore "how repeated temperature changes have affected patterns of community composition and diversity" and to analyze "recovery processes following major disruptions of community structure."

In pursuing these objectives, the four scientists discovered that (1) "community composition at a given time was not only the product of existing environmental conditions, but also the consequence of previous cumulative episodes of extirpation and recolonization," that (2) "many circumpolar woody plants were able to survive when environmental conditions became unfavorable," and that (3) "these populations acted as sources when the climate became more favorable again," which behavior, in their words, "is in agreement with modeling results at the local scale, predicting the persistence of suitable habitats and species survival within large-grid cells in which they were predicted to disappear by coarse-scale models." And these findings add to the growing number of studies that demonstrate the shortcomings of climate envelope models of both vegetation and animal responses to rising temperatures, which models are used by climate alarmists to predict massive species extinctions as a result of the "unprecedented" CO2-induced global warming predicted by equally deficient climate models, clearly indicating that these two "wrongs" do not make a "right."

Moving ahead another year, Mergeay and Santamaria (2012) penned an editorial that introduced nine papers that were included in a special issue of Evolutionary Applications, which were based on numerous contributions to a meeting on Evolution and Biodiversity that was held in Mallorca, Spain (12-15 April 2010), as well as to a preparatory e-conference.

In the words of the two special-issue editors, Shine (2012) opened the special issue by "showing how evolution can rapidly modify ecologically relevant traits in invading as well as native species." Bijlsma and Loeschcke (2012) then tackled "the interaction of drift, inbreeding and environmental stress," while Angeloni et al. (2012) provided "a conceptual tool-box for genomic research in conservation biology" and highlighted "some of its possibilities for the mechanistic study of functional variation, adaptation and inbreeding."

Following them, Van Dyck (2012) showed that "an organism's perception of its environment is subject to selection, a mechanism that could reduce the initial impact of environmental degradation or alleviate it over the longer run." Urban et al. (2012) then argued that "certain consequences of global change can only be accounted for by interactions between ecological and evolutionary processes." And Lemaire et al. (2012) highlighted "the important role of evolution in predator-prey interactions."

Focusing on eco-evolutionary interactions, Palkovacs et al. (2012) reviewed "studies on phenotypic change in response to human activities," showing that "phenotypic change can sometimes cascade across populations, communities and even entire ecosystems," while Bonduriansky et al. (2012) examined "non-genetic inheritance and its role in adaptation," dissecting "the diversity of epigenetic and other transgenerational effects." Last of all, Santamaria and Mendez (2012) "built on the information reviewed in all previous papers to identify recent advances in evolutionary knowledge of particular importance to improve or complement current biodiversity policy."

With respect to the take-home message of the several presentations, Mergeay and Santamaria concluded that they offer "compelling evidence for the role of evolutionary processes in the maintenance of biodiversity and the adaptation to global change." And they were right, as there is a whole lot more involved in determining the real-world responses of individual species to projected climate change than the simple bioclimatic envelope approach that the world's climate alarmists have typically employed when making their dire predictions of catastrophic species extinctions arising from their equally dire predictions of catastrophic CO2-induced global warming.

Graham et al. (2012) introduced their approach to the subject by noting that "local scale patterns in soil topography, substrate structure, plant cover, and soil moisture content have strong impacts on soil and plant microclimate in rugged alpine habitats," where local topography "has been shown to have a strong influence on the extremes and dynamics of alpine soil temperatures," as illustrated by the work of Wundram et al. (2010). They also noted in this regard that "soil surface temperature in alpine microclimates may deviate significantly from air temperature, adding complexity to patterns of surface temperatures," as described by Scherrer and Korner (2010, 2011). And they wrote that "it is not surprising, therefore, that local topography has a significant impact on alpine species distributions (Korner, 2003; Loffler and Pape, 2008; Jakalaniemi, 2011)."

So what new real-world data and consequent insights did Graham et al. bring to the subject? The six U.S. scientists employed what they described as "a novel mobile system to examine changes in soil and plant canopy surface temperatures at spatial scales of centimeters and temporal scales of minutes in an alpine fellfield habitat [a typically rock-strewn area that is above the timberline and dominated by low plants such as grasses and sedges] in the White Mountains of California." And what did they find? They discovered that in the middle of a typical summer day, the mean surface temperature differences between points 2, 5 and 10 cm apart were 2.9, 5.4 and 9.0°C, respectively, while extreme differences of 18°C or more were sometimes found over distances of just a few centimeters.

With respect to the implications of their findings, Graham et al. stated that "the magnitude of temperature variation at these fine scales is greater than the range of warming scenarios in Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projections, suggesting that these habitats offer the capacity of significant thermal heterogeneity for plant survival." Put another way, they said that "these traits of microclimate for alpine habitats suggest that models predicting upslope movements of species under increasing temperatures may not be entirely realistic and that there may well be sufficient microclimate heterogeneity to slow such migration."

Further to this point, the six scientists noted that Scherrer and Korner (2010, 2011) "used infra-red thermometry with an image resolution of about 1 m2 to document a large and persistent variation in microhabitat temperatures over mesoscale alpine landscape terrain, mimicking temperature gradients present along elevational gradients of several hundred meters." And they stated that these observations, together with theirs, suggest that "alpine plants under global change may well find appropriate thermal niches for establishment and survival over very short distances without elevational shifts."

Weighing in on the topic more recently was Puschendorf et al. (2013), who criticized species distribution models (SDMs) by writing that "these models are opportunistic and often violate some of their basic assumptions." To illustrate the significance of their shortcomings, Puschendorf et al. employed "amphibian declines and extinctions linked to the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) to examine how sampling biases in data collection can affect what we know of this disease and its effect on amphibians in the wild."

Working in the Australian Wet Tropics near the northeast coast of Queensland, they first "developed a distribution model for Bd incorporating known locality records for Bd and a subset of climatic variables that should correctly characterize its distribution," after which they (1) tested the validity of the model with additional surveys, (2) recorded new Bd observations in novel environments, and (3) where required, revised the original distribution model. Then, they "investigated the difference between the original and new models, and used frog abundance and infection status data from two of the new localities to look at the susceptibility of the torrent frog Litoria nannotis to chytridiomycosis."

In doing so the five Australian researchers found that "the original SDM underestimated the distribution of Bd," due to the fact that subsequent sampling in supposedly unsuitable drier environments led to the discovery of "abundant populations of susceptible frogs with pathogen prevalences of up to 100%." They also found that the validation surveys they conducted led to their discovery of "a new population of the frog Litoria lorica coexisting with the pathogen," which species was previously believed to have been "an extinct rain forest endemic." In light of their findings, Puschendorf et al. say their results "indicate that SDMs constructed using opportunistically collected data can be biased if species are not at equilibrium with their environment or because environmental gradients have not been adequately sampled," while for disease ecology, they suggest that "better estimations of pathogen distribution may lead to the discovery of new populations persisting at the edge of their range."

Lastly, Scheffers et al. (2014) prefaced their work by noting extreme weather events, such as unusually hot temperatures, can cause death by exceeding an animal's physiological limits and thereby lead to a decrease in its local population, depending on whether or not the susceptible species can find close-at-hand refuges that might mitigate the extreme consequences of the extreme heat. In exploring this possibility, Scheffers et al. acquired temperature data from four microhabitats (soil, tree holes, epiphytes, and vegetation) stretching from the ground to the canopies of primary rainforests in the Philippines, where they write that "ambient temperatures were monitored from outside of each microhabitat and from the upper forest canopy," while noting that they also "measured the critical thermal maxima (CTmax) of frog and lizard species, which are thermally sensitive and inhabit the microhabitats."

The five researchers - hailing from Australia, the Philippines, Singapore and the UK - report that the microhabitats they studied "reduced mean temperature by 1-2°C and reduced the duration of extreme temperature exposure by 14-31 times." They also say that "microhabitat temperatures were below the CTmax of inhabitant frogs and lizards, whereas macro-habitats consistently contained lethal temperatures." On average, they additionally note that microhabitat temperatures increased by 0.11-0.66°C for every 1°C increase in macro-habitat temperature." And last of all, they say that "assuming uniform increases of 6°C, microhabitats decreased the vulnerability of communities by up to 32-fold, whereas under non-uniform increases of 0.66 to 3.96°C, microhabitats decreased the vulnerability of communities by up to 108-fold."

In concluding their paper, Scheffers et al. write that their data suggest that "consideration of microhabitats provides a more realistic assessment of exposure within rainforests, possibly reducing exposure to extreme events by an order of 22," and that "inclusion of microhabitat buffering within models is therefore fundamental to making accurate assessments of vulnerability under future conditions."

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