B2B  |  Feedback  |  COSIS.net on Facebook COSIS.net News on Twitter


Lost Login Data?

Science News


Are Californian mountain plants ignoring climate change?

23.01.2011, Age: 2703 days

During the last 80 years, 64 Californian mountain plant species have migrated downhill with an average of about 264 feet, a study finds.

‘This downhill shift is counter to what would be expected given 20th-century warming, but is readily explained by species’ niche tracking of regional changes in climatic water balance rather than temperature.’, explain the researchers in their article which was published this week in Science. In other words, the researchers attributed the shift to a wetter climate in Central and Northern California, which offset the effect of higher temperatures.


Bettina Boxal of the Los Angeles Times interviewed two co-authors of the study, who told her that when forecasting the influence of climate change on plant life, ‘we'd be remiss if we just focus on temperature. This might mean species extinction rates may not be as dire as predicted.’

Abstract

Uphill shifts of species’ distributions in response to historical warming are well documented, which leads to widespread expectations of continued uphill shifts under future warming. Conversely, downhill shifts are often considered anomalous and unrelated to climate change. By comparing the altitudinal distributions of 64 plant species between the 1930s and the present day within California, we show that climate changes have resulted in a significant downward shift in species’ optimum elevations. This downhill shift is counter to what would be expected given 20th-century warming but is readily explained by species’ niche tracking of regional changes in climatic water balance rather than temperature. Similar downhill shifts can be expected to occur where future climate change scenarios project increases in water availability that outpace evaporative demand.

Crimmins, S.M., Dobrowski, S.Z., Greenberg, J.A., Abatzoglou, J.T. and Mynsberge, A.R. (2011): Changes in Climatic Water Balance Drive Downhill Shifts in Plant Species’ Optimum Elevations. Science 21 January 2011, Vol. 331 no. 6015 pp. 324-327. DOI: 10.1126/science.1199040


Twitter Facebook LinkedIn Google Bookmarks Linkarena Newsvine Oneview Stumbleupon Windows Live Yigg

Add Comment (login required)