Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Global Impact Of Climate Change On Biodiversity

Date:
January 22, 2009
Source:
University of York
Summary:
When three undergraduates set off on an expedition in 1965 to trap moths on Mount Kinabalu in Borneo, little did they realize that they were establishing the groundwork for a study of the impacts of climate change.

When three undergraduates set off on an expedition in 1965 to trap moths on Mount Kinabalu in Borneo, little did they realise that they were establishing the groundwork for a study of the impacts of climate change.

New research led by the University of York has repeated the survey 42 years later, and found that, on average, species had moved uphill by about 67 metres over the intervening years to cope with changes in climate.

This is the first demonstration that climate change is affecting the distributions of tropical insects, the most numerous group of animals on Earth, thus representing a major threat to global biodiversity.

University of York PhD student I-Ching Chen – first author of the new study – said: “Tropical insects form the most diverse group of animals on Earth but to-date we have not known whether they were responding to climate change. The last Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change AR4 Report showed a gaping hole in the evidence. Our new study is good in that it increases the evidence available, but it is potentially bad for biodiversity.”

Professor Thomas added: “Large numbers of species are completely confined to tropical mountains, such as Mount Kinabalu: many of the species found by the expeditions have never been found anywhere else on Earth. As these species get pushed uphill towards cooler conditions, the amount of land that is available to them gets smaller and smaller. And because most of the top of the mountain is bare rock, they may not be able to find suitable habitats, even if the temperature is right. Some of the species are likely to die out.”

The New Expedition in 2007 was joined by Henry Barlow, one of the members of the original survey, whose life-long enthusiasm for moths helped I-Ching Chen, who is from Taiwan, to come to terms with the sheer diversity of moths she had to identify.

Jeremy Holloway, a Research Associate at the Natural History Museum in London, and another member of the 1965 expedition, devoted his career to the identification (taxonomy) of moths from South East Asia, enabling the research team to identify the new samples. Armed with the data from 1965, moth-trapping equipment, tents, sleeping bags and rations, I-Ching and colleagues set out to repeat the original survey.

“Photographs from the 1965 expedition led us back to exactly the same sites sampled 42 years ago”, said Dr Suzan Benedick, expedition member, and Universiti Malaysia Sabah entomologist.

The new survey involved climbing the mountain and catching moths up to an elevation of 3,675 metres above sea level. Once all of the specimens had been caught and identified, then the team compared the heights at which each species had been found in 1965 and again in 2007. The results revealed a highly statistically significant shift, indicating that the moths are now found higher on the mountain than previously.

There is a more positive note, however. As the highest and coolest location between the Himalaya and New Guinea, Mount Kinabalu represents an extremely important “climate change refuge”. Species that begin to find conditions too hot (or dry) in the surrounding lowlands may be able to find suitable conditions by moving upwards on the slopes of this mountain. “The critical thing is to protect the forests surrounding the mountain, so that the lowland species are able to reach the cooler conditions that they may need,” said Dr Jane Hill, expedition member, and one of I-Ching Chen’s advisors.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of York. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. I-Ching Chen, Hau-Jie Shiu, Suzan Benedick, Jeremy D. Holloway, Vun Khen Chey, Henry S. Barlow, Jane K. Hill and Chris D. Thomas. Elevation increases in moth assemblages over 42 years on a tropical mountain. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, (in press)

Cite This Page:

University of York. "Global Impact Of Climate Change On Biodiversity." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 January 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090121091239.htm>.
University of York. (2009, January 22). Global Impact Of Climate Change On Biodiversity. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090121091239.htm
University of York. "Global Impact Of Climate Change On Biodiversity." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090121091239.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Big waves in parts of the Arctic Ocean are unprecedented, mainly because they used to be covered in ice. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

AP (July 30, 2014) A ruptured 93-year-old water main left the UCLA campus awash in 8 million gallons of water in the middle of California's worst drought in decades. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

AP (July 30, 2014) Every summer, tourists make the pilgrimage to Chincoteague Island, Va. to see wild ponies cross the Assateague Channel. But, it's the rockets sending to supplies to the International Space Station that are making this a year-round destination. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins