Researchers document how rainforests respond to changes in environmental conditions
Trees that make up rainforests are starting to produce more flowers than they normally would, all thanks to slight changes in the environmental conditions they are exposed to.Scientists writing in the journal Nature Climate Change say that, according to their investigations, trees growing in Panama's Barro Colorado Island and in Luquillo, Puerto Rico, now produce roughly 3% more flowers throughout the course of a year.
This phenomenon is due to a slight increase in local temperatures, Mongabay explains, and proves that rainforests are extremely responsive to the slightest changes in global weather patterns.
Although there is no need to worry about the fact that tropical trees have picked up the pace in terms of flower production, researchers fear that, as the planet continues to warm, these patches of vegetation will switch to producing almost no flowers.
Florida State University researcher Stephanie Pau wished to stress the fact that, “Tropical forests are commonly thought of as the lungs of the Earth and how many flowers they produce is one vital sign of their health.”
“However, there is a point at which forests can get too warm and flower production will decrease. We're not seeing that yet at the sites we looked at, and whether that happens depends on how much the tropics will continue to warm,” the specialist went on to detail.
Stephanie Pau explains that, all things considered, patches of land located at high altitudes will be the ones that will undergo the most significant changes as far as their vegetation cover is concerned.
This is because plants growing in these regions are not accustomed to a very warm weather, and natural ecosystems in this part of the world will quickly be transformed by the predicted increase in local temperatures.
Still, as this study shows, the tropics will not remain immune to the effects of climate change and global warming either.
As Stephanie Pau put it, “With most projections of future climate change, people have emphasized the impact on high-latitude ecosystems because that is where temperatures will increase the most.”
“The tropics, which are already warm, probably won't experience as much of a temperature increase as high-latitude regions. Even so, we're showing that these tropical forests are still really sensitive to small degrees of change.”