Loss of biodiversity
‘Climate change’ is such an all-encompassing phrase, that it’s easy to forget it will have a multitude of effects, which is why scientists at Imperial College London are looking more deeply at its impact on ecosystems. ‘We are going to have a climate change and we expect alongside that a loss of biodiversity,’ says Dr Pete Manning, who is leading the project along with Dr Sally Power.
At Imperial College’s Silwood Park campus researchers have constructed 168 rain shelters, each one covering a 2.4 m x 2.4 m plot of land. ‘We have a control treatment where the water falls on the roof,’ explains Manning ‘then it drops through holes onto the vegetation below. We have a climate change treatment where the water is gathered up and then we add back a proportion of the water according to a climate scenario, so every day we go out there and we reapply the water.’
A recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggests that climate change will mean reduced summer rainfall in the UK, and higher winter rainfall. ‘That’s what we are trying to simulate,’ says Manning. ‘And we are doing that alongside different levels of plant biodiversity to see if certain species go missing from an ecosystem, and whether that makes the ecosystem more vulnerable to climate change.’
Go online now for the full article and pictures on New Conservation in the December Green edition of cubed: www.britishcouncil.org/science-cubed.htm
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