Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Climate Change Science - Plant and Animal Migration

It has been found that as the climate changes plants and animals have been migrating to higher latitudes and altitudes to find the environmental conditions to which they are adapted. A study reported in the journal Science in 2011 that examined about 2,000 species found that plants and animals are moving 15 ft per day, or about 1 mile per year away from the Equator at a rate that is much higher than has been reported from previous decades. It is being observed that species migrated more rapidly from areas that have been more heavily impacted by climate change. Species distributions have recently moved to higher elevations at a median rate of 11.0/decade, and a median rate of 16.9 km/decade to higher latitudes.

Animals and plants continue to move as the Earth continues to warm. There is concern among biologists that some species will not be capable of migrating fast enough to keep up with the changing climate. There are also some that are physically not capable of migrating, with entire species eventually becoming extinct as their upper limit of tolerance is exceeded.

Extinction of species

The final extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago was the last time there was a natural mass extinction event on the scale of the present mass extinction that is being caused by humans. It has been estimated that up to 50 % of all currently living species will be extinct in less than 100 years as a result of habitat destruction, pollution, invasive species, and climate change if the present trends are allowed to continue, the extinctions having already begun. Between 1970 and 2006 species of vertebrate dropped by almost 1/3, as natural habitats are declining, crop genetic diversity is falling with 60 breeds of livestock becoming extinct since 2,000.

It was reported by the United Nations in 2010 that biodiversity was in trouble; with species going extinct at a rate that has never happened before in human history. It is in the World Ocean that many of these extinctions, plants and animals, are occurring, and many of these organisms are integral parts of the food chain,

Sources & Further reading

  1. Farmer, G. Thomas & Cook, John, 2013, Climate Change Science: A modern Synthesis, The Physical Climate Vol.1, Springer Dordrecht


Author: M. H. Monroe
Last updated: 18/12/2014
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