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Persecuting, protecting or ignoring biodiversity under climate change


A climate-driven global redistribution of species is currently underway. As species alter their geographical distributions under climate change, many will not only cross into new habitats but also new geopolitical areas. In this Perspective, we discuss the historical archetypes of managing species redistribution—persecution, protection or ignorance—which points to diverse decisions and outcomes based on a balance of societal and ecological valuation. We build the case for increasing transboundary monitoring and management of species, and for shared governance agreements that are global in scope, consisting of legally binding and biologically defensible contracts among partner countries, in what would be a critical step for the future conservation of all species.

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Fig. 1

Bas Köhler

Fig. 2: High uncertainty in future management of biodiversity.

moose henderson/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty (Mountain lion); FiledIMAGE/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty (Dingo); Fyn Kynd (Barred owl); yhelfman/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty (Brown cowbird); Becky Matsubara (Ringed-neck pheasant); Javier Cooper (Longspine urchin); Jim Hidgins/USFWS (Kirtlands warbler)

Fig. 3: Species on the move will require pro-establishment monitoring and management practices.
Fig. 4: Number of years to implement transboundary agreements.


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We are grateful to A. Abolhassani and B. Haas for researching information for Fig. 4. T. Bryant was instrumental in creation of the other figures. G.P. was supported by an ARC Future Fellowship; and B.R.S. thanks Oak Ridge Associate Universities for their support via the Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award.

Author information




B.R.S. conceived the study, G.P. and B.R.S. collected data, B.R.S. analysed data, B.R.S. wrote the manuscript with development and revision from G.P.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Brett R. Scheffers.

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Peer review information: Nature Climate Change thanks Chrystal Mantyka-Pringle, Morgan Tingley and other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Scheffers, B.R., Pecl, G. Persecuting, protecting or ignoring biodiversity under climate change. Nat. Clim. Chang. 9, 581–586 (2019).

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