The role of land use and land cover change in climate change vulnerability assessments of biodiversity: a systematic review

Context For many organisms, responses to climate change (CC) will be affected by land-use and land-cover changes (LULCC). However, the extent to which LULCC is concurrently considered in climate change vulnerability assessments (CCVAs) is unclear. Objectives We identify trends in inclusion of LULCC and CC in vulnerability assessments of species and the direction and magnitude of their combined effect on biodiversity. Further, we examine the effect size of LULCC and CC in driving changes in "currencies" of response to CC, such as distribution, abundance and survival. Methods We conducted a systematic literature review of articles published in the last 30 years that focused on CCVA and accounted for impacts of both CC and LULCC. Results Across 116 studies, 34% assumed CC and LULCC would act additively, while 66% allowed for interactive effects. The majority of CCVAs reported similar effect sizes for CC and LULCC, although they affected different CCVA currencies. Only 14% of the studies showed larger effects of CC than of LULCC. Another 14% showed larger effects of LULCC than CC, specifically for dispersal, population viability, and reproduction, which tend to be strongly affected by fragmentation and disturbance. Although most studies found that LULCC and CC had negative effects on species currencies, in some cases effects were neutral or even positive. Conclusions CCVAs that incorporate LULCC provided a better account of drivers of vulnerability, and highlight aspects of drivers that are generally more amenable to on-the-ground management intervention than CCVAs that focus on CC alone.