In climate sciences there is the new field of extreme weather event attribution (EWEA). It investigates quite successfully on the one side how climate change (i.e. rise of global and regional mean temperatures) leads to an increase of the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events (of different types: droughts, floods, hurricanes, at different places). On the other side EWEA investigates for a given extreme weather event (a specific drought, flood, hurricane) how climate change contributed to its causes (making it more probable in a sense).

I wonder if there is a corresponding field of species extinction attribution (SEA) which investigates how climate change and extreme weather events contribute to the causes of the extinction of a species. Both on the statistical (frequentists') and on the anecdotal level. Anecdotal means: considering a specific species that's gone extinct recently (so we know the circumstances quite well) and investigating how the rise of mean temperatures and/or extreme weather events have caused it.

On the one side SEA might be "easier" than EWEA because the extinction of a species is a better defined event than extreme weather events. On the other side there may be more and more complex additional causes (next to climate and extreme weather events), mainly the destruction of habitats and interruption of migration routes.

So my question is: Is there something like extinction attribution science with a focus on climate change as a main driver of species extinction?

Maybe species extinction is too much, and (severe) decline of species population (species decline for short) would be more appropriate?

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    $\begingroup$ I am afraid this is not a question about a problem in biology, but about the catagorization or directions of development of biological research. Although not without interest, I do not feel it is appropriate to this list. Please re-read the Tour and Help pages. $\endgroup$
    – David
    Commented Jul 13, 2022 at 18:42
  • $\begingroup$ There used to be a whole journal devoted to this question: Climate change responses $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 27, 2022 at 11:11
  • $\begingroup$ journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/… $\endgroup$
    – Ben Bolker
    Commented Jul 29, 2022 at 19:13
  • $\begingroup$ I’m voting to close this question because it is not about biology in the terms of SE Biology (as I wrote at the time). $\endgroup$
    – David
    Commented Dec 24, 2022 at 16:09

1 Answer 1


Even though without focus on climate change, this paper is about extinction attribution in the sense that the relation between traits and extinction risk is investigated:

A review of the relation between species traits and extinction risk (2019)

And of course the impact of climate change on species populations is investigated carefully (only under another umbrella term: "climate attribution science", not meaning "what contributes to climate change" (as in weather event attribution science) but "to what does climate change contribute"), for example

Climate attribution science and the Endangered Species Act (2021)


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