Projecting global biodiversity indicators under future development scenarios

Piero Visconti, Michel Bakkenes, Daniele Baisero, Thomas Brooks, Stuart H. M. Butchart, Lucas Joppa, Rob Alkemade, Moreno Di Marco, Luca Santini, Michael Hoffmann, Luigi Maiorano, Robert L. Pressey, Anni Arponen, Luigi Boitani, April E. Reside, Detlef van Vuuren and Carlo Rondinini

Conservation Letters, DOI: 10.1111/conl.12159


Projected LPI (A,B,C) and RLI (D,E,F) for terrestrial carnivores and ungulates under 2 global socio-economic scenarios. Business-as-usual in red and Consumption Change in blue. (A,D) Species can adapt to climate change, (B,E), maximum dispersal under land-use and climate change, (C,F) and no dispersal under land-use and climate change.

To address the ongoing global biodiversity crisis, governments have set strategic objectives and have adopted indicators to monitor progress towards their achievement. Projecting the likely impacts on biodiversity of different policy decisions allows decision makers to understand if and how these targets can be met. We projected trends in two widely used indicators of population abundance (the Living Planet Index; LPI) and extinction risk (the Red List Index; RLI) under different climate and land-use change scenarios. Testing these on terrestrial carnivore and ungulate species, we found that both indicators decline steadily, and by 2050, under a business-as-usual scenario, the LPI declines by 18–35% while extinction risk increases for 8–23% of the species, depending on assumptions about species responses to climate change. Business-as-usual will therefore fail CBD target 12 of improving the conservation status of known threatened species. An alternative sustainable development scenario reduces both extinction risk and population losses compared with Business-as-usual and could lead to population increases. Our approach to model species responses to global changes brings the focus of scenarios directly to the species level, thus taking into account an additional dimension of biodiversity and paving the way for including stronger ecological foundations into future biodiversity scenario assessments.