The call of the emperor penguin: legal responses to species threatened by climate change

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Date
2021-08-03
Authors
Jenouvrier, Stephanie
Che-Castaldo, Judy
Wolf, Shaye
Holland, Marika M.
Labrousse, Sara
LaRue, Michelle
Wienecke, Barbara
Fretwell, Peter T.
Barbraud, Christophe
Greenwald, Noah
Stroeve, Julienne
Trathan, Phil N.
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DOI
10.1111/gcb.15806
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Keywords
climate risk assessments
Endangered Species Act
foreseeable future
population projections
resiliency, redundancy and representation (3Rs)
sea ice projections
species distribution
treatment of scientific uncertainty
Abstract
Species extinction risk is accelerating due to anthropogenic climate change, making it urgent to protect vulnerable species through legal frameworks in order to facilitate conservation actions that help mitigate risk. Here, we discuss fundamental concepts for assessing climate change risks to species using the example of the emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri), currently being considered for protection under the US Endangered Species Act (ESA). This species forms colonies on Antarctic sea ice, which is projected to significantly decline due to ongoing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. We project the dynamics of all known emperor penguin colonies under different GHG emission scenarios using a climate-dependent meta-population model including the effects of extreme climate events based on the observational satellite record of colonies. Assessments for listing species under the ESA require information about how species resiliency, redundancy and representation (3Rs) will be affected by threats within the foreseeable future. Our results show that if sea ice declines at the rate projected by climate models under current energy system trends and policies, the 3Rs would be dramatically reduced and almost all colonies would become quasi-extinct by 2100. We conclude that the species should be listed as threatened under the ESA.
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© The Author(s), 2021. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. The definitive version was published in Jenouvrier, S., Judy, C.-C., Wolf, S., Holland, M., Labrousse, S., LaRue, M., Wienecke, B., Fretwell, P., Barbraud, C., Greenwald, N., Stroeve, J., & Trathan, P. N. The call of the emperor penguin: legal responses to species threatened by climate change. Global Change Biology, 27, (2021): 5008– 5029, https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.15806.
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Jenouvrier, S., Judy, C.-C., Wolf, S., Holland, M., Labrousse, S., LaRue, M., Wienecke, B., Fretwell, P., Barbraud, C., Greenwald, N., Stroeve, J., & Trathan, P. N. (2021). The call of the emperor penguin: legal responses to species threatened by climate change. Global Change Biology, 27, 5008– 5029.
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