Rainforest species particularly vulnerable to global warming
June 8, 2008

Tropical species may be particularly vulnerable to global warming due to their limited ability to adjust to high temperatures, warn scientists writing in the journal Science.

Joshua Tewksbury of the University of Washington and colleagues say that cold-blooded tropical animals — including insects, fish, reptiles and amphibians — are especially vulnerable to rising temperatures because they are physiologically specialized with respect to temperature, have limited abilities to acclimatize to new temperatures, and live in places that are already among the warmest on the planet. The authors argue that slight rises in overall global temperature could lead to "steep declines in thermal performance and Darwinian fitness".

Insect in Suriname
Tewksbury and colleagues say tropical forest species may be particularly at risk as "they live in constant shade, are not generally adapted to the high operative temperatures found in warmer open habitats, and have few behavioral options available to evade rising temperatures temperatures."

The bulk of global biodiversity is found in tropical forests.

Joshua J. Tewksbury, Raymond B. Huey, Curtis A. Deutsch (2008). Putting the Heat on Tropical Animals 6 JUNE 2008 VOL 320 SCIENCE

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Rainforest species particularly vulnerable to global warming.