Global warming causes plants to move to higher elevations
June 25, 2008
Global warming has caused many plant species to move to higher elevations, report researchers writing in the journal Science.
Analyzing the distribution of 171 forest plant species on six mountain ranges in west Europe between 1905-985 and 1986-2005, an international team of scientists found that plants responded to warmer temperatures by climbing an average of 29 meters (94 feet) in altitude each decade. The research further showed that species restricted to mountain habitats, as well as grassy species, had the largest shifts in altitudes.
The authors say more work is needed to understand why and to what extent plants are shifting in response to climate change.
The work comes shortly after another paper — also published in Science — warned that tropical species are particularly vulnerable to warming as a result of their limited ability to adjust to high temperatures.
Jonathan Lenoir, et al. (2008). A Significant Upward Shift in Plant Species Optimum Elevation During the 20th Century. Science 27 June 2008.