Revealed: How species react to climate change
IANS | Washington October 2, 2014 Last Updated at 15:12 IST Researchers at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science and the University of Vermont in the US have developed a new tool to overcome a major challenge of predicting how organisms may respond to climate change. Whereas animals can move around, plants and trees are rooted in the ground and must either withstand climate change or perish, noted biologists. "When climate changes, organisms have three choices: migrate, adapt, or go extinct," said Matt Fitzpatrick of the University of Maryland' Center for Environmental Science's Appalachian Laboratory. "We are bringing the ability to quantify that adaptation piece that had largely been missing up to this point," Matt added. Now, biologists have combined genetic analyses with new modelling approaches for the first time to help detect how well balsam poplar trees are adapted to handle climate change. For their study, the biologists sampled the genetic code of 400 trees from 31 locations in northern America and combined the genetic variations with computer modelling techniques. It was found that some poplar trees have already adapted genetically to handle climate changes expectd over the next few decades while others have not. This type of modelling of variation in genetic makeup represents an important advance in understanding how climate change may impact bio-diversity, explained the biologists. "We have developed the techniques to associate genetic variation to climate and to map where individuals may and may not be pre-adapted to climates expected in the future. This gives us a way to link climate responses more closely to biology than we were able to do previously," concluded Fitzpatrick. The study appeared in the journal Ecology Letters.
North America's key birds facing extinction, study finds
Half of North America’s bird species, from common backyard visitors like the Baltimore oriole and the rufous hummingbird to wilderness dwellers like the common loon and bald eagle, are under threat from climate change and many could go extinct, an exhaustive new study has found.
Seven years of research found climate change the biggest threat to North America’s bird species. Some 314 species face dramatic declines in population, if present trends continue, with warming temperatures pushing the birds out of their traditional ranges. Ten states and Washington DC could lose their state birds. “It is hard to imagine that we are not going to lose some of these birds permanently,” said Gary Langham, chief scientist for the Audubon Society and leader of the study. “The scale of disruption we are projecting means that many familiar sounds, and many familiar birds that people may see in their backyards and on their walks, that help them define a place for them, may no longer be there.” The outlook was far bleaker than a US government report just a few years ago on the fate of North America’s birds under climate change. That report, in 2010, projected ocean and Arctic birds would be most vulnerabThe Audubon researchers found that by mid-century, 126 of the 588 bird species in the study would lose more than half of their traditional ranges, and would go into decline. An additional 188 species would lose their range by 2080, according to the study. Maryland would lose the Baltimore oriole, the mascot for the baseball team as well as the state bird, which would no longer be able to breed in the mid-Atlantic. Lousiana would lose the brown pelican. Minnesota would lose the common loon, its state bird, which would be unable to survive in the continental United States. Idaho, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont, and Washington DC would also lose their state birds. The bald eagle, once considered a success story for American conservation, could lose 75% of its range by 2080. Some birds, such as the trumpeter swan, would lose virtually all of their...
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