Researchers use various methods to estimate a species’ vulnerability to climate change. One popular class of assessments takes a trait-based approach, calculating organisms’ vulnerability on the basis of their exposure to climate change, their sensitivity to that change, and their potential to adapt to new conditions, termed their adaptive capacity.


A measure of how likely a species is to experience negative effects of climate change. Failing to account for traits that confer higher sensitivity can result in overoptimistic estimates of species’ vulnerability.

Adaptive Capacity

The potential for species and populations to temporarily escape the negative effects of climate change via natural selection or individual plasticity.


The magnitude and type of environmental changes that a population is likely to experience under future climate scenarios. Estimates of exposure are strongly affected by the choice of climate forecast model, and add a considerable source of uncertainty into climate change vulnerability assessments....

Read the full story.

Interested in reading more?

The Scientist ARCHIVES

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?