New Delhi: More than half of common plants and one third of the animals could see a dramatic decline this century due to climate change, according to research published today in the journal Nature Climate Change.
Researchers from the University of East Anglia looked at 50,000 globally widespread and common species and found that more than one half of the plants and one third of the animals will lose more than half of their climatic range by 2080 if nothing is done to reduce the amount of global warming and slow it down.
"While there has been much research on the effect of climate change on rare and endangered species, little has been known about how an increase in global temperature will affect more common species," Dr Rachel Warren from UEA's School of Environmental Sciences said in a statement.
Plants, reptiles and particularly amphibians are expected to be at highest risk. Sub-Saharan Africa, Central America, Amazonia and Australia would lose the most species of plants and animals. And a major loss of plant species is projected for North Africa, Central Asia and South-eastern Europe.
"We looked at the effect of rising global temperatures, but other symptoms of climate change such as extreme weather events, pests, and diseases mean that our estimates are probably conservative. Animals in particular may decline more as our predictions will be compounded by a loss of food from plants," Warren said.
"There will also be a knock-on effect for humans because these species are important for things like water and air purification, flood control, nutrient cycling, and eco-tourism," she added.
But acting quickly to mitigate climate change could reduce losses by 60 per cent and buy an additional 40 years for species to adapt. This is because this mitigation would slow and then stop global temperatures from rising by more than two degrees Celsius relative to pre-industrial times (1765). Without this mitigation, global temperatures could rise by 4 degrees Celsius by 2100.
"The good news is that our research provides crucial new evidence of how swift action to reduce CO2 and other greenhouse gases can prevent the biodiversity loss by reducing the amount of global warming to 2 degrees Celsius rather than 4 degrees. This would also buy time -- up to four decades -- for plants and animals to adapt to the remaining 2 degrees of climate change," Warren said.
The research team quantified the benefits of acting now to mitigate climate change and found that up to 60 per cent of the projected climatic range loss for biodiversity can be avoided
Source: The Times of India, 13-05-2013