Exposure of plants and animals to ultraviolet-B radiation (UV-B; 280-315 nm) is modified by stratospheric ozone dynamics and climate change. Even though stabilisation and projected recovery of stratospheric ozone is expected to curtail future increases in UV-B radiation at the Earth's surface, on-going changes in climate are increasingly exposing plants and animals to novel combinations of UV-B radiation and other climate change factors (e.g., ultraviolet-A and visible radiation, water availability, temperature and elevated carbon dioxide). Climate change is also shifting vegetation cover, geographic ranges of species, and seasonal timing of development, which further modifies exposure to UV-B radiation. Since our last assessment, there has been increased understanding of the underlying mechanisms by which plants perceive UV-B radiation, eliciting changes in growth, development and tolerances of abiotic and biotic factors. However, major questions remain on how UV-B radiation is interacting with other climate change factors to modify the production and quality of crops, as well as important ecosystem processes such as plant and animal competition, pest-pathogen interactions, and the decomposition of dead plant matter (litter). In addition, stratospheric ozone depletion is directly contributing to climate change in the southern hemisphere, such that terrestrial ecosystems in this region are being exposed to altered patterns of precipitation, temperature and fire regimes as well as UV-B radiation. These ozone-driven changes in climate have been implicated in both increases and reductions in the growth, survival and reproduction of plants and animals in Antarctica, South America and New Zealand. In this assessment, we summarise advances in our knowledge of these and other linkages and effects, and identify uncertainties and knowledge gaps that limit our ability to fully evaluate the ecological consequences of these environmental changes on terrestrial ecosystems.
Available for download on Thursday, February 27, 2020