WASHINGTON — Climate change could lead to the widespread loss of common plants and animals around the world, according to a new study released Sunday in the journal Nature Climate Change.
he study’s authors looked at 50,000 common species. They found that more than half the plants and about a third of the animals could lose about 50% of their range by 2080 if the world continues its current course of rising greenhouse gas emissions.
Climate change affects the availability of nutrition and water for animals and plants. The narrowing of the geographic range of different common species means that plants and animals readily found in a given area could diminish markedly in those areas over the next seven decades.
“This study … tells us that the average plant and animal will experience significant range loss under climate change,” said the study’s lead author, Rachel Warren, of the Tyndall Centre at University of East Anglia, United Kingdom.
Warren said that until now, much climate change research had focused on the plight of rare species rather than common animals and plants. The study’s conclusions are “entirely consistent with what others are finding around the world,” said Peter B. Reich, professor of forest ecology at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul, who read the report.
The new study predicted that plants, reptiles and particularly amphibians would face the greatest risks from climate change. It also concluded that sub-Saharan Africa, Central America, the Amazon region and Australia would likely lose the most species of plants and animals. It projected “a major loss of plant species” in North Africa, Central Asia and South America.
The study is here. You’ll need a script or student access.