Nature is reacting to climate change. We see altered behaviour and movement among plants and animals; flowers change flowering period and owls get darker body colour, due to warmer winters. So, how does the future for biodiversity look like? Will plants and animals be able to adjust quickly enough to survive the changing temperatures, precipitation and seasons? Lead-author of a new study Professor David Bravo-Nogues from Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate, University of Copenhagen, explains,
“We compiled an enormous amount of studies of events, which we know influenced biodiversity during the past million years. It turns out species have been able to survive new conditions in their habitat by changing either their behaviour or body shape. However, the current magnitude and unseen speed of change in nature may push species beyond their ability to adapt.”
Too fast changes leave species small chances
Until now, scientists thought species’ main reaction to climatic changes was to move. However, the new study shows that local adaptation to new conditions seems to have played a key role in the way species survived. Species adapt when the whole population change, e.g. when all owls get darker body colour. This happens slowly over a long period of time.