Thursday, October 6, 2011

A change in the biology of ecosystems

It is hard to say whether climate change affects the thousands of ecosystems out in the wild. Scientists have proven the effect of global warming on arctic life with the melting of ice bergs. But all over the world, is there a trend that connects the biology of ecosystems and rising temperatures?
                A paper published in the journal Global Change Biology investigates the possible effects of global warming on ecosystems. The research team of scientists from the UK’s Center for Ecology and Hydrology observed more than 700 species of fish, birds, mammals, insects, amphibians, plankton and plants in the UK itself. The research from 1976 all the way to 2005 was combined to discover a consistent pattern. More than 80% of  the ‘biological events’ that take place in nature such as the flowering of plants, ovulation among mammals, and the migration of birds, are taking place sooner. And the pace of change increases as the decades go by. 
               The trend is prominent among the organisms at the bottom of the food chain, leading to problems due to the disruption of the food chain. Some predators will be able to adapt to the changing numbers of their prey but many will not. For example, a bird called the pied flycatcher depends on caterpillars for food. However an earlier spring caused the caterpillars to hatch earlier. The birds only left their winter home at the regular time, and the caterpillars were almost gone. As a result, their numbers decreased tremendously.
                Global warming affects the whole planet. Although the theory of the biology of ecosystems changing due to climate change has not been tested completely, the existing results provide a grave picture of what the present ecosystems suffer from.

Eventually the impact will reach us humans.

So let’s try our best to prevent global warming from getting any bigger.

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