September 2, 2011

Global Warming causing higher biodiversity loss than predicted

A new study has found that the amount of biodiverstiy that will be lost due to climate change has been underestimated.

Almost 33% of the planet’s flora and fauna could become extinct according to German scientists basing their research on global warming predictions by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

By 2080, more than 80 % of genetic diversity within species may disappear in certain groups of organisms, according to the research published in the journal “Nature Climate Change”. This is the first ever global study quantifying biodiversity loss on the basis of genetic diversity rather than focussing, as most do, on loss of “classically” described species. This new study – examining the influence of global warming on genetic diversity within species was not possible until modern molecular genetic methods were developed.

Steffen Pauls, of the Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F) who was one of the scientists behind the research comments that, “the loss of biodiversity that can be expected in the course of global warming has probably been greatly underestimated in previous studies, which have only referred to species numbers,”

Examinations of aquatic insects indicated that in the best case scenario two-thirds of all genetic variations would disappear and the extinction of species hides an ever greater loss, a massive disappearance of genetic diversity.


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