Climate Change

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Climate Change needs to be mainstreamed into the management of biodiversity and to inform conservation planning. This course is intended to fill a national gap in the training within this field and will provide learners with a rigorous set of analytical skills that will complement the other courses in the BCB Honours programme. This course is based on a short course entitled "Ensuring Sustainable Protection of Biodiversity in Response to Global Climatic Change using a Strategic Conservation Planning Approach" Presented at the Biodiversity and Conservation Biology Department, University of the Western Cape, South Africa, 22-25 February 2005.

The course was funded by AIACC - Assessment of Impacts and Adaptations to Climate Change in Multiple Regions and Sectors (AIACC) through a grant to Council for Scientific and industrial Research (CSIR), South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) and the University of the Witwatersrand (WITS).

The use of the course material is gratefully acknowledged, together with all of the presenters time to make it available via the Internet. AIACC is implemented by the United Nations Environment Programme ane executed jointly START (System for Analysis, Research and Training) and TWAS (Third World Academy of Sciences). START - is part of the IGBP programme and is an instrument to involve the national institutions and national scientists in the IGBP research framework. The funding was provided by the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) with collateral funding provided by the United States Agency for International Development, the Canadian Protection Agency, the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the World Bank.

The Problem:

Global warming will radically change the rainfall and temperature regimes over the entire SADC region. This is likely to have profound impact on biodiversity and wide-scale extinctions of species are predicted. The impacts will occur relatively soon and most of us will see them within our lifetimes. These extinctions can, in part, be mitigated by the use of strategic conservation planning that takes into consideration the likely impacts of climate change.


  1. To conduct hands on training on how to predicting likely impacts from climatic change.To identify adaptation options to mitigate the impacts of the change on biodiversity.
  2. To familiarise learners on the current climate change scenarios
  3. To introduce tools for biodiversity conservation planning in a climatically changing environment.


PowerPoint (with sound) 20%

You were shown the Video HBO video "Too hot not too Handle" and I will produce a text narration for this video. Essentially this document summarized the "IMPACT" of climate change for the North America (and specifically the USA). In this documentary, there were interviews with a number of Experts in various fields. You will need to make a search through the library databases (see BCB703 - Chapter on Library Searches) and IDENTIFY THREE pulications by that person (not necessary to be the senior author). Using this person's field of Expertise, these three papers and additional references (including what is available through our Planet download server) prepare a PowerPoint presentation. The PowerPoint must use the latest NISL-EI2 template which you can get HERE! (IE users right click and save target as... to download). Please try to get electronic copies of these publication so we can upload to the courseware server.

Contribution to the Weblog 20%

During theis course I am expecting various short articles/reviews written by yourselves dealing with the issue of Climate Change in South Africa, its assessment and adapatation. I am expecting about TEN contributions during the course and these contributions should be about 500 words each. Since not all articles lend themselves to being written so briefly you may contribute fewer but longer articles. For each article find a suitable image to insert that goes with the article and provide an image credit at the end of your posting. Finally and very importantly you must add a signature file at the end of your posting so we can search for your contributions. At the end of the course you will need to collect all of your postings into a single Word document to submit to us for formal assessment and this may not be less than 5000 words and this will be electroinically scanned for plagiarism. Finally to encourage you to comment on each others contributions your mark will be split 70% for your postings and 30% for your comments on other people's postings.

Online TESTS 20%

There will be six short tests.

TEST 1: This test is based on the paper "Global warming and terrestrial biodiversity decline", Malcolm, J.R. and Markham, A., 2000, WWF. You can find this paper in your course document folder.

TEST 2: This test is based on the paper "Impacts of Climate Change in the Tropics: The African Experience", by Anthony Nyong (as presented to the UK Meteorology Office's Symposium on "Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change" in Exeter, February 2005). You can find this paper in your course document folder.

TEST 3: This test appraises how well you have understood and remembered Chapters 4 and 5.

TEST 4: This test is based on the paper "Global Climate Change and Natural Area Protection: Management Reponses and Research Directions", Halpin,P.N., 1997, Ecological Applications, Vol 7, No 3. You can find this paper in your course document folder.

TEST 5: This test appraises how well you have understood and remembered Chapters 6 and 7. These are both relatively detailed chapters,

TEST 6: This test appraises how well you have understood and remembered Chapters 8 and 9. In addition, it may also include questions from the DEAT guidelines on Environmental Economics, which is included as an attachment to Chapter 9. You should ensure you have read this paper and understood as many of the principles as possible, with particular focus on the section regarding externalities and valuation (pages 5-12).

REMEMBER: you will be marked on the first quiz that you submit. We have received several copies of quizzes from some people, but only the first one received will be considered for appraisal.

Practical (Mini Project) 40%

You will be carrying out a GAM (General Additive Model) to determine the future distribution of a mammal species within Africa under climate change conditions. For an overview of the practical, a presentation can be viewed here:

Practical overview lecture

You will need to download and install the following three files. When prompted for an install location, just use the default location specified.

R statistical package installation (23.9Mb)
R additional modeling package (1.95Mb)
Practical data and shapefiles (5.86Mb)

These should add a folder onto your C:\ drive called "Climate Change Course Practical". All the necessary data for your practical can be found within this folder.

You will need access to access to ArcView 3.2 plus Spatial Analyst in order to carry out this exercise. Although this exercise can be done using ARC GIS 9.X we do not advice doing this unless you are very familiar with the software. Unfortunately time prevented us from develop the necessary help systems to undertake the practical.

You will be required to prepare a writeup of your model. Included in the folder are an outline of the practical writeup that will be required, and a template that you must fill out and complete. Read the instructions for these very carefully - it is essential that you fill them out accurately and with a minimum of formatting errors.These documents can also be found online:

Climate change practical questions
Climate change practical template

In order to fill in the template, you will need to prepare data for modelling, and then run a model prediction using a GAM. An HTML guide has been prepared to demonstrate how to prepare the data for modelling and run a GAM model using R. This demonstration also has a number of flash animations to describe some of the more complicated processes. However, not everything for the practical is completely described here - there are some elements of the exercise that will require to you to apply the skills you should have accumulated throughout the process.