Degree to which ecological environments are becoming novel
We use the term ‘novel ecological environments’ to refer to places where the future environment that arises is likely to have a composition that is different from any environment currently known on the continent.
Novel ecological environments are calculated by looking back from each location in the future and calculating the ecological similarity to the most similar location anywhere in Australia in the baseline period (figure below). This calculation is applied to all future locations across Australia.
- The lower the similarity of future locations to their most similar location currently on the continent, the greater the degree to which that ecological environment is becoming novel – becoming unlike any ecological environment we experience today.
Click on the boxes below to explore examples at national and regional scales.
Example national context
The outcome of the high emissions’ mild MIROC5 climate scenario for reptiles appears relatively positive. Few areas are projected to have highly novel species compositions by 2050. Rather, suitable environments for reptiles developing by 2050 will be at least moderately similar to ecological environments that exist at present, somewhere on the continent.
Very few ecological environments are expected to become completely novel under the high emissions’ mild MIROC5 scenario. However, moderately novel environments for all species groups may be expected for parts of Australia under the high emissions’ hot CanESM2 scenario, with parts of the interior and rangelands showing the greatest tendency toward becoming novel.
The data and maps for both scenarios and all four biological groups are available through the CSIRO Data Access Portal.
Example regional focus
Here we show novel amphibian environments for the Murray River Basin under the high emissions’ hot CanESM2 climate scenario. Future amphibian environments along the Great Dividing Range will closely resemble those presently found somewhere in Australia (lighter colours), though future amphibian environments along the Great Dividing Range will not necessarily resemble those currently found along the Great Dividing Range. Elsewhere, such as through much of the mallee region in Victoria, amphibian environments in 2050 are projected to have only moderately similar counterparts to the present (darker colours in the map).
Gradients in the degree to which ecological environments are becoming novel for Australian amphibians under the high emissions’ hot CanESM2 climate scenario by 2050, within regions broadly associated with the lower Murray Basin.
Ideas for using information on novel ecological environments in planning are available under Planning Examples.