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Invasive plants are beneficiaries of climate change in Thoreau's woods
Date:2/3/2010

diameter to seed weight -- against species' response to more than a century and a half of climate change. Alone among all these traits, plants that have fared well share a common phenology, a suite of traits related to the timing of seasonal events such as flowering, leaf growth, germination, and migration.

By contrast, many plants with a less flexible flowering schedule -- and thus prone to flowering at suboptimal times -- have declined in population, in many cases to the point of local extinction.

The current work builds upon a 2008 paper by Davis and colleagues which showed that some of the plant families hit hardest by climate change at Walden Pond include beloved species like lilies, orchids, violets, roses, and dogwoods. The scientists also reported that some 27 percent of all species Thoreau recorded from 1851 to 1858 are now locally extinct, and another 36 percent are so sparse that extinction may be imminent.

"Invasive species can be intensely destructive to biodiversity, ecosystem function, agriculture, and human health," Davis says. "In the United States alone the estimated annual cost of invasive species exceeds $120 billion. Our results could help in developing predictive models to assess the threat of future invasive species, which may become greatly exacerbated in the face of continued climate change."


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Contact: Steve Bradt
steve_bradt@harvard.edu
617-496-8070
Harvard University
Source:Eurekalert  

Page: 1 2

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