Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Climate Modeling Shows California’s Native Plant Species in Peril from Global Warming

26.06.2008
California's native plant species are so vulnerable to global climate change that two-thirds of them could suffer 80 percent reduction in their geographic range by the end of the 21st century.

Two-thirds of the plants native to the state of California could suffer more than an 80 percent reduction in geographic range by the end of the century, according to a recent study.

Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe, who contributed to the Nobel-Prize-winning United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, prepared high-resolution projections for California’s future climate for an ecological study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and Duke University. Their results will be published June 25 in the journal PLoS ONE.

The study tracked 5,500 native plants of California, including the renowned Coast Redwood tree, and predicted how changing climate conditions could affect their dispersal throughout the region. Hayhoe said the climate change likely will push these plants farther north or to higher elevations, in many cases reducing the range size or even causing extinctions.

“The bad news is that the climate change we may experience in the future could have this kind of drastic impact on California’s native plant species,” Hayhoe said. “Many species may have to move to cooler areas in order to survive. In some of these cases, for example, when a plant grows near the top of a mountain, there’s nowhere to go.

“But there is some good news. We can use this information to find out where we can set aside land for conservation purposes now, so these plants can be preserved.”

Because endemic species – native species not found outside the state – make up nearly half of all California's native plants, a changing climate will have a major impact on the state's unparalleled plant diversity, the researchers warn.

“Our study projects that climate change will profoundly impact the future of the native flora in California,” said David Ackerly, a professor of integrative biology at University of California, Berkeley. “The magnitude and speed of climate change today is greater than during past glacial periods, and plants are in danger of getting killed off before they can adjust their distributions to keep pace.”

The researchers caution that their study can't reliably predict the fate of specific species.

However, the trend is clear: the researchers believe that in response to rising temperatures and altered rainfall, many plants could move northward and toward the coast, following the shifts in their preferred climate, while others, primarily in the southern part of the state and in Baja California, may move up mountains into cool but highly vulnerable refugia.

Refugia are places where large numbers of the plants hit the hardest by climate change are projected to survive.

Coast Redwoods may range farther north, for example, while California oaks could disappear from central California in favor of cooler weather in the Klamath Mountains along the California-Oregon border.

Many plants may no longer be able to survive in the northern Sierra Nevada or in the Los Angeles basin, while plants of northern Baja California will migrate north into the San Diego mountains. The Central Valley will become preferred habitat for plants of the Sonoran desert.

“Across the flora, there will be winners and losers,” said first author Scott Loarie, a doctoral candidate at Duke University’s Nicholas School for the Environment who has worked with Ackerly and Hayhoe on the analysis for the past four years. “In nearly every scenario we explored, biodiversity suffers – especially if the flora can't disperse fast enough to keep pace with climate change.”

The authors identified several “climate-change refugia” scattered around the state. Many are in the foothills of coastal mountains such as the Santa Lucia Mountains along California's Central Coast, the Transverse Ranges separating the Central Valley from Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Mountains east of Los Angeles. Many face pressure from encroaching development.

“There's a real potential for sheltering a large portion of the flora in these refugia if they are kept wild and if plants can reach them in time,” Loarie said.

The authors argue that it’s not too early to prepare for this eventuality by protecting corridors through which plants can move to such refugia, and maybe even assisting plants in reestablishing themselves in new regions.

“Part of me can't believe that California's flora will collapse over a period of 100 years," Ackerly said. "It's hard to comprehend the potential impacts of climate change. We haven't seen such drastic changes in the last 200 years of human history, since we have been cataloguing species.”

The journal article can be downloaded from the PLoS ONE Web site: http://www.plosone.org/doi/pone.0002502.

Maps of California showing the range change of several species are available at
http://ucjeps.berkeley.edu/jepsonflora/CAFP_climate_change/index.html
CONTACT: Katharine Hayhoe, associate professor, Department of Geosciences, Texas Tech University, (806) 742-0015, (806) 392-1900, or katharine.hayhoe@ttu.edu;

David Ackerly, professor of integrative biology at University of California, Berkeley, (510) 643-6341 or dackerly@berkeley.edu; Scott Loarie, doctoral candidate at Duke University’s Nicholas School for the Environment, (707) 217-8479 or loarie@gmail.com.

John Davis | newswise
Further information:
http://www.plosone.org/doi/pone.0002502
http://ucjeps.berkeley.edu/jepsonflora/CAFP_climate_change/index.html
http://www.ttu.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Upcycling 'fast fashion' to reduce waste and pollution
03.04.2017 | American Chemical Society

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

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: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

Im Focus: Quantum-physical Model System

Computer-assisted methods aid Heidelberg physicists in reproducing experiment with ultracold atoms

Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...

Im Focus: Glacier bacteria’s contribution to carbon cycling

Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.

A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New quantum liquid crystals may play role in future of computers

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A promising target for kidney fibrosis

21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine

Light rays from a supernova bent by the curvature of space-time around a galaxy

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>