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Connecting four research solitudes

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The impacts and implications of climate change for invasive species, biodiversity and society


Funded by: Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences (CFCAS)
Lead Investigator: Dawn Bazely
Co-Applicants: Irene Henriques, Carla Lipsig-Mummé, James MacLellan, Stepan Wood, Norman Yan
Post-doctoral Fellows: Nina Hewitt, Nicole Klenk, Andrea Smith

Climate change and Invasive Alien Species (IAS) are major drivers of global environmental change and both have already had profound impacts on different parts of Canadian society. The interactive effects of climate change and IAS are complex and highly changeable. We cannot afford to ignore them if we are to successfully manage and adapt to a rapidly changing environment. However, existing policies, strategies and legislation tend to consider the issues of climate change and invasives in isolation of each other, and they are rarely linked in practice, to each other, and to the connected issue of biodiversity loss. This is despite that fact that scientists and policy makers acknowledge that invasives are the second most common cause of biodiversity loss and that both will increase in a warming world. We must connect the four solitudes of climate change, invasives, biodiversity loss and society, more effectively. Further delays in recognizing the interactive effects of climate change and invasives means that the harm that they cause to ecosystems, economies and societies across Canada, will continue to rise.

Our knowledge synthesis will help to operationalize these connections by assessing (1) which invasives are expected to spread the most with climate change, (2) the implications of efforts to combat climate change through the development of alternative fuel sources (biofuels), and (3) how proposed efforts to assist threatened and rare species by physically moving them to new locations, may cause more invasions. A synthesis of these three assessments will then be undertaken. The potential impacts of these issues for trade, legislation and policy, work and employment, education and training will be addressed both by members of the project team and our existing networks and also by new stakeholders who will be identified through community consultations. Making the findings widely accessible to policy communities, is a top priority. Each knowledge synthesis report will be communicated through multiple channels, ranging from websites, to hard copy reports, newsletters, factsheets and small workshops.