Plants can take an uphill hike as temperatures rise

February 11th, 2009 - 3:16 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Feb 11 (ANI): A new research has indicated that as summer temperatures rise due to global warming, plants can take a hike to higher elevations, in order to bloom.

The research, from the University of Arizona (UA) in Tucson, US, reported plants flowering at higher elevations in Arizonas Santa Catalina Mountains as summer temperatures rise.

The flowering ranges of 93 plant species moved uphill during 1994 to 2003, compared to where the same species flowered the previous ten years.

During the 20-year study period, summer temperatures in the region increased about 1.8 degree Fahrenheit (1 degree C.).

For years, probably decades now, scientists have been trying to understand how species are going to respond to the anticipated global changes and global warming, said Theresa Crimmins, research specialist for the UAs Arid Lands Information Center and the network liaison for the USA National Phenology Network.

To better understand how plants respond to climate change, Crimmins and her husband, UA climatologist Michael Crimmins, teamed up with naturalist Dave Bertelsen.

Bertelsen has been hiking the Finger Rock trail about one to two times a week since 1983 and recording what plants were in flower.

The 5-mile hike starts in desert scrub vegetation and climbs 4158 feet (1200 meters), ending in pine forest.

Bertelsen has completed 1,206 round-trip hikes and recorded data along the trail for nearly 600 plant species.

Lead author Theresa Crimmins said that Bertelsens data shows that some species flowered farther upslope than before, others stopped flowering at lower elevations, and some species did both.

Because some plant species are moving and others staying put, she said that the changes may divide plant communities, increase the growth of invasive species and even cause local extinctions by affecting the food sources of local insects and animals.

I think we can be confident that things are going to continue to change and we dont necessarily know the ripple effects of all these changes in flowering ranges, Crimmins said.

Theresa and Michael Crimmins plan to do additional analyses of the data to determine whether climate change is also causing flowers to bloom earlier in the year.

The changes are happening fast enough now that more eyes on the ground are going to be much more useful as the human species tries to understand how these other systems, that we rely upon so dearly, are going to change, said Theresa. (ANI)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in Health Science |