A massive 16 percent of our planet’s species may be facing extinction by 2100 as a result of the havoc that climate change is wreaking, a recent study published in Science states.
According to a team of researchers, the ever-increasing temperatures will contribute to the wipe-out of one in six animal species on Earth. In the following 100 years, Earth temperatures will rise by 4.3 degrees Celsius, bringing the overall temperatures well over those of the pre-industrial era.
This conclusion is the result of a meta-analysis (a comprehensive study comparing the body of evidence approaching a particular issue). Researchers evaluated the results of 131 current studies on the matter of temperature rise and its repercussions on biodiversity.
Since temperature increases represent the major effects of climate change, a 2 degree increase in worldwide temperatures are enough to significantly alter weather patterns as well as floral patterns. Consequently, the fauna inhabiting specific areas will suffer the direct consequences.
Bird populations may begin flocking towards colder areas while other species could die-out altogether as a result of massive shifts in their ideal food choices.
Reptiles and amphibians seem to be facing the highest risk of extinction, with New Zealand, South America and Australia being the most probable targets of the aforementioned extinctions.
Researchers explain that, because of a limited land mass where animal populations can relocate, certain inhabitants won’t be able to move in the face of a crisis. While the 2 degree increase is correlated with a 5.2 percent population drop, the 4.3 degree increase is believed to extinguish approximately 16 percent of the masses.
Complex models reveal that South America will most likely face the worst extinction rates with approximately 23 percent of the entirety of its species facing extinction if nothing is changed by 2100. Similarly, Australia and New Zealand face a 14 percent decline risk.
Of course, not all organisms are as susceptible to these temperature shifts. Many of Earth’s animal species will have to face distribution and number changes in order to properly adapt to the unwanted temperature increases. Their ecological roles may also shift in the process.
According to Prof. Marc Urban, ecology professor with the University of Connecticut, such massive shifts may also affect crop growth, disease spreading and ecosystems in general.
Europe and North America seem to be the best-guarded continents with a 6 respectively 5 percent species loss risk. Moreover, colder regions such, especially lying above the northern polar circle, are expected to handle the temperature changes better.
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