Research Paper Example on Focal Species and Climate Change

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University of California, Santa Barbara
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Focal species is a term used to describe a group species that is prone to effects of a threat caused by climate change.

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Climate change is the change in normal climatic conditions of a place that have been observed over a period of time. Anthropogenic climate change refers to climate change that occurs as a result of emission of green house gases by human activity. The focal species approach is majorly used to assess the impact of climate change in a particular place (Wilson et al, 2005).

Phenology, the study of natural life cycle events of organisms and their timing, provides a good platform of identifying the incidence of climate change and assessing its impact on the life cycle of these organisms (Yang &Rudolf, 2010). A change in the events that pertain to the natural life cycle of these organisms is an indication of the occurrence of climate change. Biological responses to climate change can be measured by assessing and obtaining current estimates of biological processes and comparing them to historical records (Inouye, 2008).


Species Common Name Location Date Time

Honey Bee Gyema Lily Fire-wheel tree Slender Bankisa Silly Oak Black Swan Jacaranda Grey-headed flying-fox Ribwort Plantain Swift Parrot Discussion

The honey bee is credited for the pollination of millions of flowers that bear fruits eventually. Climate change has been recorded to enhance a parasite that infects and kills honey bees. The changes in temperatures are also crucial to the existence of the honey bee. Changes in honey bee behavioral patterns might indicate changes in climate.

The flowering patterns of the Gyema Lily are also key indicators of climate change. Certain climatic conditions favor the natural flowering of the Gyema Lily. A change in the usual flowering patterns could indicate climate change. Their tall red flowers make them easy to identify and observe (Dimech et al, 2007)

The fire-wheel tree does well in well-drained, rich-loamy soils within the tropical rainforests. They have bright flowers and a defined flowering pattern. Climate change may affect the growth of the fire-wheel tree even when the soil is appropriate for its growth. They require high humidity and warm temperatures. Changes in its flowering patterns could indicate a change in these climatic conditions

The silver banksia species is historically known to do well in warm temperatures. Their appearance in areas that had been too cold for them to grow could be an indication of climate change and specifically an increase in atmospheric temperatures in the areas it occurs. Flowering has also been recorded between February and July. A change in this pattern could indicate climate change.

The silly oak otherwise known as G Robusta does well in temperate to semi-tropical climates. Its flowering is known to occur between September and November. These aspects have been used to study its prevalence and distribution in Australia. Climate change would constitute a significant change in these patterns.

The flowering of the jacaranda tree has been recorded to occur in October and November. The tree has bright purple flowers. Climate change could cause a change in these flowering timelines. The tree has also been recorded to do well in warm temperatures. The appearance of the tree in areas where it was previously non-existent could indicate changes in atmospheric temperatures (Jones et al, 2005).

The black swan is seen as a period of unexpected unfortunate events. The existence of a black swan has been strongly disputed. Climate change is seen as the next black swan. The impacts of climate change are undeniably adverse. Climate change basically affects everything and every process on earth.

The grey-headed flying fox, native to Australia, prefers swamps, woodlands, and rain forests as habitats. The places have cool temperatures and are humid. A change in habitat preference for the flying fox would therefore indicate changes in these conditions that constitute climate change (Tidemann & Nelson, 2004).

Ribwort plantain is a perennial weed found in Australia. It has adapted to the harsh climatic conditions in Australia. The study of the natural life cycle events of the ribwort plantain would therefore provide a good measuring scale for the changes in climate and climatic changes impact assessment. The flowering patterns of the ribwort plantain provide insight into changes in climatic conditions such as temperature and humidity.

The swift parrot is known to use its beak to cool down in times of high temperatures, as most birds do. Climate change, specifically the rise in temperatures, which has been recorded globally, has been proven to have an effect on the bird's beak. An increase in the length of the birds beak has been recorded with increase in global temperatures. This phenomenon could therefore be observed in relation to climatic changes (Mac Nally & Horrocks, 2000).

Under such studies with complex protocols citizen science project attract very little people. This can be solved by efforts to simplifying the activities to be carried out by the citizens. This approach also requires substantial amounts of investment and could therefore pose a financial challenge. This could be solved through carefully planning and encouraging volunteering to such a project (Parmesan &Yohe, 2003).

Climate change studies are crucial to humans because climate changes affect all aspects of living and non-living organisms. Climate is a huge determinant of the human lifestyle and it makes some human activities possible and others impossible in particular areas.


The changes in expected patterns in animal and plant life are indicators of climate change. The study in these areas could therefore provide information that could be used in mitigation measures towards curbing the effects of climate change.

Extended Table

Honey Bee

Gyema Lily

Fire-wheel tree

Slender Bankisa

Silly Oak

Black Swan


Grey-headed flying-fox

Ribwort Plantain

Swift Parrot es


Dimech, A.M., Cross, R., Ford, R. and Taylor, P.W., 2007. Micropropagation of Gymea lily (Doryanthes excelsa Correa) from new South Wales, Australia. Plant cell, tissue and organ culture, 88(2), pp.157-165.

Jones, F.A., Chen, J., Weng, G.J. and Hubbell, S.P., 2005. A genetic evaluation of seed dispersal in the neotropical tree Jacaranda copaia (Bignoniaceae). The American Naturalist, 166(5), pp.543-555.

Mac Nally, R. and Horrocks, G., 2000. Landscape-scale conservation of an endangered migrant: the Swift Parrot (Lathamus discolor) in its winter range. Biological Conservation, 92(3), pp.335-343.

Tidemann, C.R. and Nelson, J.E., 2004. Long-distance movements of the grey-headed flying fox (Pteropus poliocephalus). Journal of Zoology, 263(2), pp.141-146.

Parmesan, C. and Yohe, G., 2003. A globally coherent fingerprint of climate change impacts across natural systems. Nature, 421(6918), pp.37-42.

Wilson, R.J., Gutierrez, D., Gutierrez, J., Martinez, D., Agudo, R. and Monserrat, V.J., 2005. Changes to the elevational limits and extent of species ranges associated with climate change. Ecology Letters, 8(11), pp.1138-1146.

Inouye, D.W., 2008. Effects of climate change on phenology, frost damage, and floral abundance of montane wildflowers. Ecology, 89(2), pp.353-362.

Yang, L.H. and Rudolf, V.H.W., 2010. Phenology, ontogeny and the effects of climate change on the timing of species interactions. Ecology letters, 13(1), pp.1-10.

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