Climate Change Impacts High-Elevation Plants

July 16, 2012
Image Caption: Flowers and buds on rockcress in the Colorado Rocky Mountains: earlier each year. Credit: David Inouye

Derek Walter for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online

Climate change is causing flowers in high elevations to bloom nearly two weeks faster than they did decades ago, according to a recent study. Drummond´s rockcress and glacier lily are among a number of flowers that are blooming much earlier than they did in the past.

According to the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London – Biological Series study, such changes are most likely to be the result of the Earth´s warmer temperatures. The lily´s bloom now appears 17 days earlier than it did in the 1970s.

Drummond´s rockcress flowered in 2011, 13 days earlier than it did in 1973.

It also can have an impact on hummingbirds, who will be disappointed to find the nectar-laced blooms are gone when they fly in during early spring. In two decades, the hummingbirds will miss out on their feeding opportunities entirely, according to scientists.

“Northern species, such as the broad-tailed hummingbird, are most at risk of arriving at their breeding sites after their key food resources are no longer available, yet ecologists predict that species will move northward as climate warms,” says Saran Twombly, program director in the National Science Foundation’s Division of Environmental Biology, which provided funding for the research.

“These conflicting pressures challenge society to ensure that species don’t soon find themselves without a suitable place to live.”

The researchers indicated that the climate change impact on flowers may be happening at a faster rate in higher elevations. These regions experience much more dramatic changes as global warming happens fastest there.

Source: Derek Walter for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

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