Plants' Reactions To Climate Change



A team of researchers writing in May 12's issue of the scientific journal Nature Climate Change detail how climate change and global warming will impact on global biodiversity by the end of this century.

These specialists warn that, as far as they can tell, the environmental and weather changes set to take place in the years to come will affect over half of the plants now growing in various parts of the world.

By the looks of it, nearly a third of all common animal species will also be harmed.

The researchers explain that all these plants and animal species are to experience a dramatic loss in their overall population as a result of their being left without about 50% of their climatic range.


“Our research predicts that climate change will greatly reduce the diversity of even very common species found in most parts of the world. This loss of global-scale biodiversity would significantly impoverish the biosphere and the ecosystem services it provides,” study leader Dr. Rachel Warren explained.

“There will also be a knock-on effect for humans because these species are important for things like water and air purification, flood control, nutrient cycling, and eco-tourism,” said specialist further argued.

Plants, reptiles and particularly amphibians are expected to be at highest risk. Sub-Saharan Africa, Central America, Amazonia and Australia would lose the most species of plants and animals. And a major loss of plant species is projected for North Africa, Central Asia and South-eastern Europe.

But acting quickly to mitigate climate change could reduce losses by 60 per cent and buy an additional 40 years for species to adapt. This is because this mitigation would slow and then stop global temperatures from rising by more than two degrees Celsius relative to pre-industrial times (1765). Without this mitigation, global temperatures could rise by 4 degrees Celsius by 2100.

The study was led by Dr Rachel Warren from theTyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at UEA. Collaborators include Dr Jeremy VanDerWal at James Cook University in Australia and Dr Jeff Price, from UEA’s school of Environmental Sciences and the Tyndall Centre. The research was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

“The good news is that our research provides crucial new evidence of how swift action to reduce CO2 and other greenhouse gases can prevent the biodiversity loss by reducing the amount of global warming to 2 degrees Celsius rather than 4 degrees. This would also buy time – up to four decades – for plants and animals to adapt to the remaining 2 degrees of climate change.”

The research team quantified the benefits of acting now to mitigate climate change and found that up to 60 per cent of the projected climatic range loss for biodiversity can be avoided.

Dr Warren said: “Prompt and stringent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally would reduce these biodiversity losses by 60 per cent if global emissions peak in 2016, or by 40 per cent if emissions peak in 2030, showing that early action is very beneficial. This will both reduce the amount of climate change and also slow climate change down, making it easier for species and humans to adapt.”



Information on the current distributions of the species used in this research came from the datasets shared online by hundreds of volunteers, scientists and natural history collections through the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF).

Co-author Dr Jeff Price, also from UEA’s school of Environmental Studies, said: “Without free and open access to massive amounts of data such as those made available online through GBIF, no individual researcher is able to contact every country, every museum, every scientist holding the data and pull it all together. So this research would not be possible without GBIF and its global community of researchers and volunteers who make their data freely available.”

   From University of East Anglia: http://www.uea.ac.uk/mac/comm/media/press/2013/May/climate-change-warren-common-species









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