Posted: Mar 23, 2010 11:52 pm
by RichardPrins
Global warming threatens plant diversity
In the coming decades, climate change is set to produce worldwide changes in the living conditions for plants, whereby major regional differences may be expected to occur.

Thus today's cool, moist regions could in future provide habitats for additional species, and in arid and hot regions the climatic prerequisites for a high degree of plant diversity will deteriorate. This is the conclusion reached in a new study by scientists at the Universities of Bonn, G├Âttingen and Yale, and published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society London.

Dr. Jan Henning Sommer of Bonn University┬┤s Nees Institute for Biodiversity of Plants asserts, "climate change could bring great confusion to the existing pattern of plant diversity, with scarcely predictable consequences for our ecosystems and mankind". The potential impact of climate change on global plant diversity has now, for the first time, been quantified and modeled on a regional basis. The researchers have investigated the numbers of plant species to be found in different regions under current climatic conditions, and the subsequent interrelationship they uncovered has now been applied to 18 different climate change scenarios for the year 2100.

However, the study does not permit any predictions regarding the degree to which the biodiversity of any given region will, in fact, adapt to new conditions or, in other words, whether additional species will migrate into favoured regions, or whether disadvantaged areas will in reality suffer mass losses of species. "That would be fortune-telling. The adaptability of species and their interactions in the ecosystem can, like human landuse, exert great influence on their distribution. This is a field about which we still know far too little", Sommer explains. Nevertheless, the published results do provide an important pointer to the likelihood of the scales of immigration or losses to be expected in given areas. (...)