Plant and animal species to move poleward by climate change (ILRI Clippings)

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Climate change causing plant and animal species to move poleward, away from equator

Posted by Susan MacMillan

USA Today reports on a new paper in the prestigious journal Science that increasing temperatures are pushing plant and animal species to move uphill and northward at much faster rates than scientists realized.

‘A study published in today’s edition of the journal Science finds that, overall, species are moving to higher elevations at 36 feet per decade and higher latitudes at 10.5 miles per decade. The rate is two or three times faster than when it was last measured, in 2003.

The climate is shifting everything toward the north and higher altitudes,” says Chris Thomas, senior author on the paper and a professor of conservation biology at the University of York in the United Kingdom. Animals, plants and insects closer to the equator or at lower elevations “are starting to find it too hot and are retreating upwards.”

‘The study was a meta-analysis of studies covering 764 species moving north or south depending on which hemisphere they were in, and 1,367 species moving in elevation. Although each species moved at different rates and some even moved towards the equator or downhill, overall the strong trend was toward the poles or toward higher elevations. . . .



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Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.