Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Global warming will negatively impact tropical species

07.05.2008
Global warming is likely to reduce the health of tropical species, scientists from UCLA and the University of Washington report May 6 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

At the same time, a little bit of warming may actually move certain organisms, particularly insects, in the high latitudes closer to their optimal temperature, the researchers say.

"In the tropics, most of the organisms we have studied, from insects to amphibians and reptiles, are already living at their optimal physiological temperatures," said Curtis Deutsch, UCLA assistant professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences and co-author of the study. "When warming starts, they do less well as they move toward the hottest end of their comfort range. Even a modest increase in temperature appears rather large to them and negatively impacts their population growth rates."

Why should we be concerned with the fate of insects in the tropics?

"The biodiversity of the planet is concentrated in tropical climates, where there is a tremendous variety of species," Deutsch said. "This makes our finding that the impacts of global warming are going to be most detrimental to species in tropical climates all the more disturbing. In addition, what hurts the insects hurts the ecosystem. Insects carry out essential functions for humans and ecosystems — such as pollinating our crops and breaking down organic matter back into its nutrients so other organisms can use them. Insects are essential to the ecosystem."

At least for the short term, the impact of global warming will have opposing effects. In the tropics, warming will reduce insects' ability to reproduce; in the high latitudes, the ability of organisms to reproduce will increase slightly, Deutsch said. If warming continues, the insects in the high latitudes would eventually be adversely affected as well.

"Our results imply that in the absence of any adaptation or migration by these populations in the tropics, they will experience large declines in their population growth rate," Deutsch said. "This could lead to a fairly rapid population collapse, but organisms are adaptable; the question is, what will their response be? They could migrate toward the poles or toward higher elevations, for instance."

"We don't think this is restricted to insect species," Deutsch said. "Data on turtles, lizards, frogs and toads show patterns that are very similar to what we find for insects. They will do much worse in the tropics than in the high latitudes."

Scientists have measured in laboratories how sensitive different species are to changes in temperature. For insects, the data is comprehensive and includes information on how temperature affects the population growth rate for species, Deutsch said. He and his colleagues — who included Joshua Tewksbury, assistant professor of biology at the University of Washington, and Raymond Huey, professor of biology at the University of Washington — studied the data, then went to climate models and analyzed what the predicted temperature change in various regions implied about species' future growth rate.

According to climate predictions, more rapid rates of warming of the Earth's surface will occur in the higher latitudes, especially in the polar regions, than at the equator, Deutsch said.

"You would think a larger warming in Alaska would have a greater impact on the organisms living there than a much smaller increase in, say, Panama or Costa Rica," he said. "We found the opposite will be true. A 1-degree temperature change in Panama will not be felt the same way by an organism as a 1-degree temperature change in Alaska."

The range of temperature tolerance that an organism has is largely dependent on how much temperature variability it experiences. In the tropics, the amount of temperature variability is very small; there is little difference between summer and winter, while in Alaska, the seasons are dramatically different.

To live in their environments, organisms in the tropics should have a relatively narrow tolerance for temperature change, while in the high latitudes, organisms should be able to tolerate a much wider variation in temperature.

"The magnitude of the impact of global warming depends largely on what we do to slow it down," Deutsch said.

Stuart Wolpert | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucla.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

nachricht International network connects experimental research in European waters
21.03.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Northern oceans pumped CO2 into the atmosphere

27.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

Fingerprint' technique spots frog populations at risk from pollution

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

Big data approach to predict protein structure

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>