ASICS (ASsessing and mitigating the effects of climate change and biological Invasions on the spatial redistribution of biodiversity in Cold environmentS)
is a global network of ecologists passionate about biodiversity in the earth’s most remote areas: the cold north and south, and high-elevation areas. We bring together expertise on field observations, experiments and ecological modelling to answer one important question: how are global changes affecting cold-environment species redistributions, and can this knowledge help us halt the deterioration of these precious ecosystems?
Our key objectives
Species physiology & adaptation to climate change
Species have limited capabilities to respond to climate changes. Examination of such physiological tolerance limits in cold-climate regions will allow us to understand which species will ultimately prevail here. This mechanistic understanding of species physiology provides the key to better predictions of biodiversity redistributions under different scenarios of future climate change. This will help us to get future management strategies, policy contents and program budgets better armed to tackle emerging threats for cold-climate biodiversity.
An unprecedented number of species are on the move in recent decades, as a result of the increased globalization of human activities and the accelerating changes in the climate. Either through range expansions or long-range introductions, new species increasingly enter existing ecosystems. We evaluate the state of polar regions under these forces and aim to improve our understanding of the factors setting the current distribution of species. This should allow us to inform biodiversity managers of the local and regional habitats primarily at risk of biodiversity changes.
Species interaction & ecosystem functioning
Species distributions are for a large part driven by their interactions with each other, a factor commonly overlooked in distribution modelling. Here, we want to formally take these interactions – and their dynamics due to climate change and plasticity – into account to arrive at more generizable findings of global change effects on species redistributions. By as such taking into account the full complexity of the drivers of species redistributions, we can disentangle who will be the ‘winners and losers’ of accelerating global changes in cold-climate regions. We will assess the effects of the reshuffling of biodiversity and the interactions between species on community and ecosystem functioning. This will be the ultimate test to assess the stability and/or vulnerability of cold-climate ecosystems towards global change-driven species redistributions.
Providing tools for management & policy makers
With unprecedented levels of global connectivity, the movement of species around the world has never been greater. And combined with a warming climate, invasive species are set to threaten biodiversity in even the coldest of places. Through a synthesis of all project work, we can develop environmental risk assessments for key areas.In order to ensure that our findings are able to inform change or offer advice that may protect and conserve these fragile polar and alpine environments, we shall liase with appropriate committees, managers and policy makers in relevant study zones.
ASICS - a global project, addressing regional issues
ASICS, a unique global metadatabase fostering geo-referenced species distribution
observations in cold-climate ecosystems worldwide, From Antarctica to Svalbard, the European Alps to Hawaii and Australia.
Click on the icons to find out more about our study sites. And find out further information on the datasets committed to ASICS here.