5 Ways Climate Change Will Affect Plants and Animals • The Revealer

Warming temperatures, stronger storms and rising seas present a cascade of challenges that researchers are working to understand.

Scientists have reminded us once again that when it comes to climate change, we are all in this together. A to study published last month in Natural climate change concluded that at least 85% of the world’s population has already been affected by climate change.

“It is likely that almost everyone in the world is now experiencing changes in extreme weather patterns due to human emissions of greenhouse gases,” said Friederike Otto, senior lecturer at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Imperial College environment. Recount the Washington Post.

As long as we are all in the same boat, all is not equal. Wealthier countries like the United States play an outsized role in pumping fossil fuels into the atmosphere, but less wealthy countries face the greatest risks. We also know far less about how climate change will affect poorer countries – far more research and resources have gone into studying North America than Africa or South America, according to the study.

These knowledge gaps don’t just affect people. Countless species of plants and animals are facing a warming world. Researchers have found that rising temperatures and related impacts can lead to changes in behavior, reproduction, migration and foraging. Biologist Thor Hanson wrote in a recent book that 25-85% of species on the planet are already on the move due to climate change. What happens when new neighbors interact in these new ecosystems is something we know little about so far, because the ripple effects are large and numerous.

But the more scientists discover how plants and animals – and their habitats – can change, the more effective conservation measures will be.

The developer kept tabs on the burgeoning field of climate change biology. Here are five new discoveries scientists have made recently about wildlife and climate change.

Cottongrass blows in the wind at Lake Etivlik, Alaska. The plant is a sedge with seeds dispersed by the wind. Photo: Western Arctic National Parks, (CC BY 2.0)

1. Pack your bags. Many bat species will need to move to find suitable habitat, as their current habitats are expected to become warmer and drier. Some, like the Isabelline Serotine bat (Eptesicus isabellinus), could be forced to move 1,000 miles. The greatest exodus is likely to come from coastal Europe and North Africa, which already harbor the greatest species richness.

2. Not child’s play. While fish may swim to cooler waters as the ocean warms, plants may have a harder time finding suitable habitat in a changing climate. A 2020 study found that wind-dispersed or wind-pollinated trees in the tropics or on the windward sides of mountain ranges could face the biggest problems because the wind is unlikely to move them in a favorable direction. to the climate.

3. Forest for trees. Mangrove forests can help mitigate climate change and have been shown to store up to four times more carbon than other tropical forests. They also help protect coastlines from hurricane damage. Nature-based solutions to help soften the blows of climate change are good news, but researchers have also learned that mangroves themselves are under threat from rising seas. If we want the help of the mangroves, we are going to have to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to help them too.

4. Disasters abound. So far this year, the United States has been hit by 18 weather and climate disasters costing $1 billion each. However, an increase in the severity of extreme weather is not just an economic concern. Researchers say such events can also harm wildlife by killing animals or indirectly destroying food and habitat, contaminating water, or forcing wildlife to move to areas with competition or predation. is bigger.

5. Take the slow lane. Sometimes you just need a good place to hide. Last year the magazine Borders of ecology and environment dedicated one the whole problem to new research on how to identify and manage climate change refugia – areas where the effects of rising temperatures are largely mitigated due to unique local conditions. As one of the studies explained, “As the effects of climate change accelerate, climate change refugia provide a slow pathway to allow the persistence of short-term focal resources and transitional refugia to long term”.

The hunt for climate refugia is another reminder of the benefits research can have on conservation, and why such scientific efforts need geographic parity so that certain regions – and their biodiversity – are not overlooked.


Want to know more? Here is additional coverage from The developerThe archives of:

Move or Change: How Plants and Animals Are Trying to Survive a Warming World

Will climate change push these amphibians to the brink?

Want to fight climate change? Start by protecting these endangered species

A rare ‘bird of two worlds’ faces an uncertain future

Coral in Crisis: Can Replanting Efforts Stop the Reef Death Spiral?

Climate change really gets this researcher’s goat

10 species that climate change could push to extinction

Forests versus climate change: Researchers race to figure out what drought means for the world’s trees

Climate change causes ‘catastrophic’ shortage of bird food in Galápagos

Offshore wind power is ready to explode. Here’s what it means for wildlife

The race to build solar power in the desert – and protect rare plants and animals

is deputy editor of The developer and worked for over a decade as a digital editor and environmental journalist focusing on the intersections of energy, water and climate. His work has been published by The nation, American perspective, High Country News, Grist, Pacific Standard and others. She is the editor of two books on the global water crisis.