We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham Research Online
You are in:

Past and future global transformation of terrestrial ecosystems under climate change.

Nolan, Connor and Overpeck, Jonathan T. and Allen, Judy R. M. and Anderson, Patricia M. and Betancourt, Julio L. and Binney, Heather A. and Brewer, Simon and Bush, Mark B. and Chase, Brian M. and Cheddadi, Rachid and Djamali, Morteza and Dodson, John and Edwards, Mary E. and Gosling, William D. and Haberle, Simon and Hotchkiss, Sara C. and Huntley, Brian and Ivory, Sarah J. and Kershaw, A. Peter and Kim, Soo-Hyun and Latorre, Claudio and Leydet, Michelle and Lézine, Anne-Marie and Liu, Kam-Biu and Liu, Yao and Lozhkin, A. V. and McGlone, Matt S. and Marchant, Robert A. and Momohara, Arata and Moreno, Patricio I. and Müller, Stefanie and Otto-Bliesner, Bette L. and Shen, Caiming and Stevenson, Janelle and Takahara, Hikaru and Tarasov, Pavel E. and Tipton, John and Vincens, Annie and Weng, Chengyu and Xu, Qinghai and Zheng, Zhuo and Jackson, Stephen T. (2018) 'Past and future global transformation of terrestrial ecosystems under climate change.', Science., 361 (6405). pp. 920-923.


Impacts of global climate change on terrestrial ecosystems are imperfectly constrained by ecosystem models and direct observations. Pervasive ecosystem transformations occurred in response to warming and associated climatic changes during the last glacial-to-interglacial transition, which was comparable in magnitude to warming projected for the next century under high-emission scenarios. We reviewed 594 published paleoecological records to examine compositional and structural changes in terrestrial vegetation since the last glacial period and to project the magnitudes of ecosystem transformations under alternative future emission scenarios. Our results indicate that terrestrial ecosystems are highly sensitive to temperature change and suggest that, without major reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere, terrestrial ecosystems worldwide are at risk of major transformation, with accompanying disruption of ecosystem services and impacts on biodiversity.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
Download PDF
Publisher Web site:
Publisher statement:This is the author’s version of the work. It is posted here by permission of the AAAS for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Science on 31 Aug 2018, Vol. 361, Issue 6405, pp. 920-923, DOI: 10.1126/science.aan5360.
Date accepted:30 July 2018
Date deposited:02 October 2018
Date of first online publication:31 August 2018
Date first made open access:02 October 2018

Save or Share this output

Look up in GoogleScholar