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Climate change threatens 1 in 5 plant species
Date:8/13/2008

This release is also available in German.

Halle/Saale, Potsdam, August 2008 - One in five of Germany's plant species could lose parts of its current range, a study by scientists at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the French Laboratoire d'Ecologie Alpine reveals. Species distributions will be rearranged as a result of climate change; this could have a dramatic impact particularly on the vegetation in south-western and eastern Germany. The researchers have modelled and recorded how the ranges of a total of 845 European plant species will shift under three different future scenarios. Even moderate climate change and limited land use changes could have an adverse impact on flora, the researchers write in the current edition of Biology Letters. The research shows how important it is to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level in order to preserve broad biodiversity in plant species.

Sven Pompe and his colleagues from UFZ evaluated the potential impact of climate change on the distribution of 845 European plant species, 550 of which are currently found in Germany. The research team, which included Franz Badeck from PIK, used climate and land use scenarios up to 2080 based on possible temperature increases of 2.2, 2.9 or 3.8 degrees Celsius. The impacts of climate change will result in local losses of flora. The reduction in the ranges of plants is a general trend, although some central and southern European species move in which were not previously recorded in Germany. The impacts will vary locally, with the greatest reduction in species richness likely to take place in north-eastern and south-western Germany. The effects in the simulations become greater as the temperature increases. With moderate warming of about 2.2 degrees Ce
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Contact: Doris Boehme
presse@ufz.de
49-341-235-1269
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
Source:Eurekalert  

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