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Rising temperatures may decrease plant diversity

Published: Thursday, March 22, 2012

Plant biodiversity may be threatened by climate change, according to a soil study in the mountains of Switzerland.

By moving plots of land -- vegetation intact -- to lower and drier altitudes, researchers were able to record the loss of plant biodiversity in different climates. Seven hundred segments of earth were moved from an elevation of 1,400 meters and monitored for two years. At 1,000 meters, seven out of an original 35 plant species eventually died, and five more species died at 600 meters.

"At the start of our project, in summer 2009, there was a clear distinction between the vegetation from the three locations. But now it is much more homogeneous," said Alexandre Buttler, a researcher from Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, who worked on the study with the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research.

Because it contained fewer organisms, the drier soil also released less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, so the "complete picture" hasn't yet been determined, says Buttler (Pierre Le Hir, LeMonde/Guardian Weekly, March 20). -- LJ

Reprinted from ClimateWire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. 202-628-6500


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Reprinted from ClimateWire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. 202-628-6500.

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