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Flower power makes tropics cooler, wetter
Date:6/16/2010

lacing flowering plants with non-flowering plants in eastern North America reduced rainfall by up to 40 percent. The same replacement in the Amazon basin delayed onset of the monsoon from Oct. 26 to Jan. 10.

"Rainforest deforestation has long been shown to have a somewhat similar effect," Boyce said. Transpiration drops along with loss of rainforest, "and you actually lose rainfall because of it."

Studies in recent decades have suggested a link between the diversity of organisms of all types, flowering plants included, to the abundance or rainfall and the vastness of tropical forests. Flowering plants, it seems, foster and perpetuate their own diversity, and simultaneously bolster the diversity of animals and other plants generally. Indeed, multiple lineages of plants and animals flourished shortly after flowering plants began dominating tropical ecosystems.

The climate-altering physiology of flowering plants might partly explain this phenomenon, Boyce said. "There would have been rainforests before flowering plants existed, but they would have been much smaller," he said.


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Contact: Steve Koppes
s-koppes@uchicago.edu
773-702-8366
University of Chicago
Source:Eurekalert  

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