Climate change alters the way in which species interact with one another--a reality that applies not just to
today or to the future, but also to the past, according to a new research.
"We found that, at all time scales, climate change can alter biotic interactions in very complex ways," said
paleoecologist Jessica Blois of the University of California, Merced, the paper's lead author.
"If we don't incorporate this information when we're anticipating future changes, we're missing a big piece of
Hot magma deep within Earth may have heated carbon-rich rocks, releasing methane into the atmosphere and leading to an ancient warming event, scientists suggest. Here, lava from a 2004 Kilauea eruption flows into the sea.
Blois asked for input from researchers who study "deep time," or the very distant past, as well as those who study
the present, to help make predictions about what the future holds for life on Earth as climate shifts.
Co-authors of the paper are Phoebe Zarnetske of Yale University, Matthew Fitzpatrick of the University of Maryland,
and Seth Finnegan of the University of California, Berkeley.
"Climate change and other human influences are altering Earth's living systems in big ways, such as changes in
growing seasons and the spread of invasive species," said Alan Tessier, program director in the National Science
Foundation's (NSF) Division of Environmental Biology, which co-funded the research with NSF's Division of Earth Sciences.
"This paper highlights the value of using information about past episodes of rapid change from Earth's history to
help predict future changes to our planet's ecosystems."
Scientists are seeing responses in many species, Blois said, including plants that have never been found in certain
climates--such as palms in Sweden--and animals like pikas moving to higher elevations as their habitats grow too warm.
"The worry is that the rate of current and future climate change is more than species can handle," Blois said.
Click on image to enlarge
Time spiral: looking back through time to understand future climate change.
The researchers are studying how species interactions may change between predators and prey, and between plants
and pollinators, and how to translate data from the past and present into future models.
"One of the most compelling current questions science can ask is how ecosystems will respond to climate change,"
said Lisa Boush, program director in NSF's Division of Earth Sciences.
"These researchers address this using the fossil record and its rich history," said Boush.
"They show that climate change has altered biological interactions in the past, driving extinction, evolution and
the distribution of species.
"Their study allows us to better understand how modern-day climate change might influence the future of biological
systems and the rate at which that change will occur."
While more research is needed, Blois said, changes can be observed today as well as in the past, although it's harder
to gather information from incomplete fossil records.
Looking back, there were big changes at the end of major climate change periods, such as the end of the last Ice Age
when large herbivores went extinct.
Without those mega-eaters to keep certain plants at bay, new communities of flora developed, most of which in turn
are now gone.
"People used to think climate was the major driver of all these changes," Blois said, "but it's not just climate.
It's also extinction of the megafauna, changes in the frequency of natural fires, and expansion of human populations.
They're all linked."
People are comfortable with the way things have been, said Blois. "We've known where to plant crops, for example,
and where to find water."
Now we need to know how to respond, she said, to changes that are already happening--and to those coming in the
Paper published by a team of researchers in this week's issue of the journal Science.
Lake In France Turns Red
This year, we have encountered the color red in places where we don't expect to see it. A while back the strange appearance
of Azov Sea stunned residents who saw how the water had turned red. The red rocks in China have also puzzled scientists for a long time.
Now, a lake in Southern France has also suddenly turned red.
An Incredible Geological Phenomena
Earth is an amazing planet and our nature is full of wonders. We have previously written about incredible singing plants.
This time we would like to focus our readers' attention on another amazing geological phenomena, namely so-called growing stones.
It is difficult to image that stones can really grow, but these stones seem to be alive!
Yangtze River In China Turns Red
We have seen on a couple of occassions how lakes and seas have suddenly turned red.
In August a lake in Southern France unexpectedly changed color and shortly before that the strange appearance of
Azov Sea stunned residents who saw how the water had turned red....