(ORDO NEWS) — An international team of scientists conducted a massive study to find out how climate change shifts the time between the start of flowering forest flowers and the full formation of tree crowns.
If the flowers do not have time to bloom in this short period, they will no longer have enough light to ripen the seeds.
On different continents, the shift occurs in different ways. In some regions, climate change seriously threatens biodiversity.
If one plant in an ecosystem changes, the whole ecosystem can change
As soon as the snow melts, even before the crowns of the trees spread out, the first forest flowers appear. For example, such a delicate white flower as sanguinaria.
For many forest plants such as sanguinaria, timing is everything.
If the flower blooms a little earlier, the frost will kill it, if a little later, it will not have time to bloom, it will be covered by a dense crown of trees and there will not be enough sunlight for it.
The task of such plants is to accurately hit the “light window”, and this is a fairly short period. But the climate is changing.
And different plants adapt to change in different ways. If one plant in an ecosystem changes, this leads to unexpected, sometimes unpleasant, and sometimes simply fatal consequences for other species.
During climate change, different plants react to changes in different ways. And the time of “windows of light” is also shifting.
Time for a change
An international team of scientists led by Boston University conducted a large-scale study, the purpose of which was to find out how the time of flowering of forest flowers and the time of formation of tree crowns changes – how the “light window” shifts with climate change.
Scientists have collected a huge herbarium and analyzed the time and place of flowering of many forest flowers.
After that, we summarized the results in a single table and looked at how things are on different continents.
Worst of all things are in North America. Due to warming, the trees are leafing out earlier than before. But the flowers are behind. Their cycle has barely moved.
This means that there is less time for flowering. If this trend continues, then soon the already short “window of light” for forest flowers will close altogether, and they will die.
Surprisingly, in Europe the situation is different. Both trees and flowers shift their cycles in sync. That is, the “light window” is not reduced. And the flowers are growing as always.
In Asia, flowers bloom earlier than usual. And the trees scatter their crowns in normal, as well as before warming, time.
This means that the flowers now have more time to bloom and develop. Where this will lead is hard to say.
It is only clear that if we consider more complex ecosystems, which include hundreds or even thousands of species, their restructuring is unlikely to be synchronous.
And that means the consequences for ecosystems are unpredictable.
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