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Rapid Effects of Climate Change On Plants & Their Ecosystems

October 24, 2018 |

This article was originally published on 

“An international team of researchers led by two Villanova University biologists has found that climate change is dramatically altering terrestrial plant communities and their ecosystems at such a rapid pace that having a stable baseline from which to conduct experiments is becoming increasingly difficult.

In an article titled “Ambient Changes Exceed Treatment Effects on Plant Species,” just published in the journal Global Change Biology, lead author Adam Langley, Ph.D. and co-author Samantha K. Chapman, Ph.D., both associate professors in Villanova’s Department of Biology, together with a team of 16 researchers, documented findings that compared the abundance of ambient (growing in natural conditions) plants to plants in plots experimentally treated with elevated carbon dioxide, nutrients, water and warming to simulate future environmental changes.

The researchers compared the change in abundance of ambient plants to the treated ones. Using a database of long-term  studies over a 30-year period, the team estimated trends in plant abundance for 791  in ambient and treated plots across 16 long-term global change experiments, yielding 2,116 experiment-species-treatment combinations. The results were surprising. For most species (57 per cent), according to the article, the magnitude of ambient change was greater than the magnitude of treatment effects—the opposite of the result expected by the researchers…”

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