Extremes: understanding flower-visitor interactions in a changing climate
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Tony J. Popic, Glenda M. Wardle, 2012. "Extremes: understanding flower-visitor interactions in a changing climate", Wildlife and Climate Change: Towards robust conservation strategies for Australian fauna, Daniel Lunney, Hutchings Pat
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We argue here that climate change studies which focus only on single species will be inadequate to address the complexity of causal mechanisms, as climate effects will percolate through entire ecological communities. Changes in species distributions may be considered as: 1) fully independent, in which case each species will respond directly to environmental factors; 2) dependent upon a set of biological interactions among species; or 3) of a combination of both environmental and biological factors.
Our second point is that climate extremes will drive substantial change beyond any changes in averages - and that it is these rare outlier events that are most likely to be relevant for Australia and for the arid zone in particular.
A corollary of this point is that at present, the extremes, e.g. rainfall in the arid zone, are currently unpredictable and this unpredictability is likely to further increase as the extremes increase. This could lead to events of greater severity, more frequent extreme events of current magnitude, or a combination of both. It is not known to what extent the Southern Oscillation Index and the El Niño/La Niña cycles will be altered.
We illustrate our case by considering the interactions among flowering plants and their floral visitors in the Simpson Desert.