The consequences of wildlife responses to desertification and climate change


Convener: Oded Berger-Tal, BIDR

Human-Induced Rapid Environmental Changes (HIREC) such as climate change and desertification, are expected to elicit a strong behavioral response in animals experiencing this change. For example, some animals may choose to move away from the disturbed area into a more suitable environment, others may choose to alter their activity times, or change their behavior (assuming they have the capacity to do so) in a way that will maximize fitness under the new conditions. Such large-scale responses can cascade through the entire food- web and alter the dynamics of an entire community or ecosystem. Moreover, because in many cases the changes caused by climate change and desertification at the habitat scale are novel and rapid in evolutionary terms and were not previously experienced by the animal, animals may either: fail to recognize the change, fail to respond, respond inappropriately, or respond in a manner that initially or seemingly is beneficial but might have long-term negative consequences. In this session we will explore behavioral and physiological responses of wildlife to climate change and desertification, discuss the consequences of these responses on the community and ecosystem scales, and discuss possible solutions.