Impacts of Climate Change on Biodiversity
Laboratory of Biodiversity Science, School of Agriculture and Life Sciences, The University of Tokyo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8657, Japan
Rising temperatures brought about by global warming are causing plants to bloom and leaf earlier, and advancing the start of animal breeding seasons. The ranges of some species of plants and animals are also being shifted northwards or to higher elevations. In cities, the heat island effect is raising temperatures still further, accelerating the flowering of plants. The degree of such phenological changes, and of the range in shifts, varies according to species and group, resulting in the distortion or mismatch of biological interactions such as predation, pollination, seed dispersion and parasitism. Rising sea levels due to the rising temperatures is destroying tidal wetlands and wiping out coral reefs and, consequently, killing off the various organisms that live there. It has been predicted that if warming continues, sudden and drastic changes will occur in the structure and functioning of ecosystems around the world, including in Japan, and that such regime shifts, which cannot easily be reversed, will be frequent. These ecological changes would affect a variety of aspects of human life such as housing, diet and health.
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