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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Reseach Notes: Two studies show plants shift to higher elevations when climate warms

Researchers from the University of Vermont and Yale University studied tree species distributions in the Green Mountains from 1962 to 2005 and found that the upper range of lower elevation hardwoods had moved 91 to 119 meters higher during the study period, corresponding to a rise in average temperature and precipitation. Abstract: Beckage et al. PNAS. March 18, 2008. 105(11): 4197-4202.

A more long-range study in the mountains of western Europe shows a similar result. BBC news reports that scientists studied distributions of 171 plant species between 1905 and 2005 and found that, on average, populations have relocated their optimum ranges 29 meters higher in elevation each decade in response to climate change. Abstract: Lenoir et al. Science. 27 June 2008. 320(5884): 1768-1771.

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