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

lsius, about seven percent of species will lose more than two-thirds of their current ranges. This increases to eleven percent at a warming of 2.9 degrees Celsius and twenty percent at 3.8 degrees Celsius. The fact that the extent of change increases disproportionately to the projected increase in temperature argues in favour of the European Union's stabilisation target of two degrees Celsius in order to protect biodiversity. Saarland, Rhineland Palatinate and Hesse and the lowland plains of Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt and Saxony could suffer particularly high species losses. In contrast, the researchers expect the number of species in the low mountain ranges of Baden-Wrttemberg, Bavaria, Thuringia and Saxony to increase slightly, with some plants moving in. However, for this to happen these species would actually have to reach these areas: climate change could take place too quickly for most plant species to adapt or migrate in line with the shifts in ranges - polewards or to higher altitudes.

"Many plant species could lose their niches in habitats such as mountains or moors," Sven Pompe from UFZ explains. Migrating species from southern Europe could not compensate for these losses in the models. The marsh marigold (Caltha palustris), for example, is one of the losers to climate change. The changes in the environmental conditions in the scenarios will result in this species disappearing locally from the low-lying areas of Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt and Saxony. In contrast, the common walnut (Juglans regia), originally introduced north of the Alps by the Romans, would find more areas with suitable conditions and could extend into eastern Germany.


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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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