Like animals, plants require specific environmental conditions—such as the right temperature, moisture, and light levels—in order to thrive. Even small changes in environmental parameters can affect the reproduction and survival of a species. As global temperatures rise, both animal and plant populations are projected to gradually shift toward northern latitudes and upward to higher elevations where temperatures are cooler in order to stay within their ideal range of environmental conditions. - Science Magazine
The results of the analysis were unexpected. More than 60% of plants shifted their distributions downward, toward warmer, lower elevations—despite significant climate warming across the regions under study, the team reported online on 24 July in Global Change Biology. Even more striking, all plants within a region—regardless of species—moved in the same direction.
“Initially, we thought there was something wrong with our analysis—species distributions are expected to shift upward, not downward,” says team leader and plant ecologist Melanie Harsch. “But we redid the analysis and we got the same results.”
A closer look revealed that the downhill movement of plants was likely driven by the changes in precipitation that accompanied warming temperatures. Those regions that experienced less rain and snow at high elevations were those with plants shifting toward lower elevations with wetter climates. “Less snow in winter translates into less water in summer, resulting in water-stressed plants and downward shifts,” Harsch says.
Although plant populations are shifting downward toward greater water availability, they will also have to contend with an increasingly warming climate. “It’s a double-edged sword,” Harsch states, “as temperatures rise, water needs will also increase.” - Science Magazine
... the timing of flowering in plants and breeding in birds - are generally more sensitive to temperature change, than to changes in rain and snowfall... According to the findings, published in journal Nature, plants and animals respond differently to temperature changes at different times of year and seasonal relationships between predators - such as insect-eating birds and plankton-eating fish - and their prey could be disrupted in the future. - Plymouth Herald.