Read what AAF’s scientist Miles Silman says about climate change in eastern Peru. Read the full article here.
At Edge of Peruvian Andes, Tracking Impacts of Warming – written by Elizabeth Kolbert for e360, 10 September 2012
Excerpt: Silman and many other ecologists have come to believe that climate change is likely to have just as great an impact, indeed probably an even greater impact, in the tropics. The reasons for this are several. Temperatures in the tropics are a lot less variable than at higher latitudes, so tropical species tend to have a narrow range of “thermal tolerance.” Also in the tropics, temperature belts tend to be wider; thus, to track the temperature changes projected for the next century, tropical species will have to move a lot farther (and therefore faster) than temperate species. Meanwhile, because the tropics are already the hottest places on earth, temperature increases there will create “novel climates” of a sort that probably haven’t been seen on earth in millions of years. Finally, and perhaps most significantly, the tropics are where most species actually live. “When we think about climate change we often think that high latitudes are going to be the places that are affected the most,” Silman told me. “If you look at the absolute magnitude of change there, it’s high, though it’s surprisingly high in the low latitudes, too. But if we think about what’s important to organisms, it’s places on the planet where climates are going to disappear or climates are going to be so new that they’re going to present challenges to species that they’ve never seen. And if you look at either of those, what you find is that instead of the high latitudes being most affected, it’s the low latitudes, and more than that it’s the highest biodiversity areas of the low latitudes.”
Photos courtesy of Miles Silman – A view of Manu National Park in eastern Peru.