Navigation Links
Tropical rainforest and mountain species may be threatened by global warming

STORRS, CT Contrary to conventional wisdom, tropical plant and animal species living in some of the warmest places on Earth may be threatened by global warming, according to an article by University of Connecticut Ecologist Robert K. Colwell and colleagues in this week's (Oct. 10) issue of Science magazine.

As Earth's climate has warmed in recent decades, the geographical ranges of well-studied bird, butterfly, and plant species in the US and Europe have moved northward, following the gradual northward shift of their familiar climates. Other studies have shown that species in the US and Europe have shifted to higher elevations, as temperature zones on mountains have moved upward.

In contrast, surprisingly little attention has been given to the effects of warming climate on tropical plants and animals. Colwell's article in Science magazine this week may change that.

The report points out that tropical climates have warmed too (more than 3/4 degrees Centigrade [1.4 degrees Fahrenheit] since 1975), and climate models predict an additional increase of more than 3 degrees Centigrade (nearly 6 degrees Fahrenheit) over the next century in the tropical forests of Central and South America. This much warming would shift temperature zones uphill about 600 m (nearly 2000 feet) in elevation above sea level. Tropical species, like those at higher latitudes, will likely be driven to higher elevations by these changes, following the climate zones they are suited for.

Working their way up the forested slopes of a Costa Rican volcano rising nearly 3000 m (10,000 ft) above the coastal plain, Colwell and colleagues have collected data on the altitudinal ranges of nearly 2000 species of plants and insects.

They report that about half these species have such narrow altitudinal ranges that a 600 m (2000 ft) uphill shift would move these species into territory completely new to them, beyond the upper limits of their current ranges on the mountainside. But many may be unable to shift most mountainside forests in the tropics have been severely fragmented by human land use.

Meanwhile, tropical lowland rainforests, the warmest forests on Earth, face a challenge that has no parallel at higher latitudes. If the current occupants of the lowlands shift uphill, tracking their accustomed climate, there are few replacements waiting in the wings, currently living in even warmer places.

According to Colwell and colleagues, the threat of lowland attrition from warming climates faces about half the species they studied in Costa Ricaunless lowland species retain tolerances to higher temperatures developed millions of years ago when the world was much warmer.

Only further research can estimate the risk, but Colwell's report indicates that the impact of global climate change on some tropical rainforest and mountain species could be significant.


Contact: Colin Poitras
University of Connecticut

Related biology news :

1. Tropical insects go the distance to inform rainforest conservation
2. New study warns limited carbon market puts 20 percent of tropical forest at risk
3. Tropical crab invades Georgia oyster reefs -- but the long-term impact cant be predicted
4. Spatial patterns in tropical forests can help to understand their high biodiversity
5. Researchers discover forests of endangered tropical kelp
6. If corn is biofuels king, tropical maize may be emperor
7. Why do so many species live in tropical forests and coral reefs?
8. Time-sharing tropical birds key to evolutionary mystery
9. Springer launches Tropical Plant Biology
10. No convincing evidence for decline in tropical forests
11. Tropical soils impede landmine detection
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/27/2016)... June 27, 2016 Research and Markets has ... 2016-2020" report to their offering. ... America to grow at a CAGR of 12.28% during ... based on an in-depth market analysis with inputs from industry experts. ... the coming years. The report also includes a discussion of the ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics was once again ... of the fastest-growing trade shows during the Fastest 50 Awards ... Las Vegas . Winners are ... of the following categories: net square feet of paid exhibit ... 2015 ACMG Annual Meeting was ranked 23 out of 50 ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... 2016   Acuant , the leading ... has partnered with RightCrowd ® to ... Management, Self-Service Kiosks and Continuous Workforce Assurance. ... functional enhancements to existing physical access control ... with an automated ID verification and authentication ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF), a leading national childhood cancer ... bioinformatics lab, using ,big data, to advance the pace ... Liz Scott , co-executive director of ALSF and Alex,s ... Washington, D.C. , hosted by Vice President ... pediatric cancer research and awareness. The ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... , June 27, 2016  Global demand for ... percent through 2020 to $7.2 billion.  This market ... beverages, cleaning products, biofuel production, animal feed, and ... diagnostics, and biocatalysts). Food and beverages will remain ... by increasing consumption of products containing enzymes in ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... ON , June 27, 2016 /PRNewswire/ - BIOREM Inc. ... has been advised by its major shareholders, Clean Technology ... United States based venture capital ... shares of Biorem (on a fully diluted, as converted ... the disposition of their entire equity holdings in Biorem ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... SAN DIEGO , June 27, 2016  Sequenom, ... company committed to enabling healthier lives through the development ... Supreme Court of the United States ... Federal courts that the claims of Sequenom,s U.S. Patent ... the patent eligibility criteria established by the Supreme Court,s ...
Breaking Biology Technology: