Biodiversity and climate extremes: known interactions and research gaps

Mahecha et al. | ESS Open Archive | 2023 | Review |


Climate extremes are on the rise. Impacts of extreme climate and weather events on ecosystem services and ultimately human well-being can be partially attenuated by the organismic, structural, and functional diversity of the affected land surface. However, the ongoing transformation of terrestrial ecosystems through intensified exploitation and management may put this buffering capacity at risk. Here, we summarise the evidence that reductions in biodiversity can destabilise the functioning of ecosystems facing climate extremes. We then explore if impaired ecosystem functioning could, in turn, exacerbate climate extremes. We argue that only a comprehensive approach, incorporating both ecological and hydrometeorological perspectives, enables to understand and predict the entire feedback system between altered biodiversity and climate extremes. This ambition, however, requires a reformulation of current research priorities to emphasise the bidirectional effects that link ecology and atmospheric processes.