For many years, conventional wisdom held that tropical plant and animal species remained unaffected by global warming.
However, an article co-authored by Colgate University assistant professor of biology Catherine Cardelus in this week’s issue of Science magazine may change that.
“Until now, there’s been little attention given to the impact of a warming climate on tropical environments,” said Cardelus.
Tropical plant and animal species living in some of the warmest places on earth may be threatened by global warming, according to the research of Cardelus and her colleagues.
The study indicates that global warming would shift temperature zones uphill and tropical species will likely be driven to higher elevations by these changes, following the climate zones they are suited for.
Cardelus and her fellow researchers, who collected data on 2,000 species of plants and animals along forested slopes of a Costa Rican volcano, believe the results of that shift could be devastating to lowland occupants.
If the current occupants of the lowlands shift uphill, tracking their accustomed climate, there are few replacements waiting in the wings, currently living in even warmer places.
According to the article, the threat of lowland attrition from warming climates faces about half the species they studied in Costa Rica—unless lowland species retain tolerances to higher temperatures developed millions of years ago when the world was much warmer.
Founded in 1819, Colgate University is a highly selective, residential, liberal arts college serving nearly 2,750 undergraduates with diverse backgrounds, interests, and talents. Colgate is situated on a rolling 515-acre campus in central New York State.
Anthony Adornato | Newswise Science News
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