Ecology, Climate Change and Related News

Conservation Science for a Healthy Planet

Loss of plant species triggers the extinction of animals

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January 4, 2017 ScienceDaily  see full article here

When plant species disappear due to climate change, this may lead to the subsequent loss of various animal species. Insects which depend on interactions with specific plant partners are particularly threatened. Plants, in contrast, will be less sensitive to the disappearance of their animal partners….

….[they] modeled the vulnerability of more than 700 European plant and animal species to future climate change. For the first time, they combined these models with data on interactions of plants with their animal pollinators and seed dispersers. The simulation indicates that the initial spark for extinction cascades as a result of climate change mostly originates from plant species and is indirectly transferred to animal species.

This domino effect is a particular threat to animal species that only interact with a small number of plant species, since they are more sensitive to climate change than generalists….

…“A consideration of biotic interactions between animals and plants is therefore important for predicting the impacts of climate change on biodiversity.”

Matthias Schleuning et al. Ecological networks are more sensitive to plant than to animal extinction under climate change. Nature Communications, 2016; 7: 13965 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms13965

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