Global Warming May Cause Higher Loss of Biodiversity Than Previously Thought

September 29, 2011 • Climate Change & Mitigation, Daily Email Recap

Thanks to Madeline Weld for this article from Science Daily. See:

Global Warming May Cause Higher Loss of Biodiversity Than Previously Thought

ScienceDaily (Aug. 24, 2011) – If global warming continues as expected, it is estimated that almost a third of all flora and fauna species worldwide could become extinct. Scientists from the Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (Biodiversität und Klima Forschungszentrum, BiK-F) and the SENCKENBERG Gesellschaft für Naturkunde discovered that the proportion of actual biodiversity loss should quite clearly be revised upwards: by 2080, more than 80 % of genetic diversity within species may disappear in certain groups of organisms, according to researchers in the title story of the journal Nature Climate Change. The study is the first world-wide to quantify the loss of biological diversity on the basis of genetic diversity.

White branches show lost genetic lineages (no climatically suitable areas projected) in 2080 if global temperature increases by four degrees. (Credit: Copyright Miklos Bálint et al)

Most common models on the effects of climate change on flora and fauna concentrate on “classically” described species, in other words groups of organisms that are clearly separate from each other morphologically. Until now, however, so-called cryptic diversity has not been taken into account. It encompasses the diversity of genetic variations and deviations within described species, and can only be researched fully since the development of molecular-genetic methods. As well as the diversity of ecosystems and species, these genetic variations are a central part of global biodiversity.

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