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Global warming increases species extinctions worldwide

AUSTIN, Texas -- Global warming has already caused extinctions in the most sensitive habitats and will continue to cause more species to go extinct over the next 50 to 100 years, confirms the most comprehensive study since 2003 on the effects of climate change on wild species worldwide by a University of Texas at Austin biologist.

Dr. Camille Parmesan's synthesis also shows that species are not evolving fast enough to prevent extinction.

"This is absolutely the most comprehensive synthesis of the impact of climate change on species to date," said Parmesan, associate professor of integrative biology. "Earlier synthesis were hampered from drawing broad conclusions by the relative lack of studies. Because there are now so many papers on this subject, we can start pulling together some patterns that we weren't able to before."

Parmesan reviewed more than 800 scientific studies on the effects of human-induced climate change on thousands of species.

"We are seeing stronger responses in species in areas with very cold-adapted species that have had strong warming trends, like Antarctica and the Artic," said Parmesan. "That's something we expected a few years ago but didn't quite have the data to compare regions."

Previously published predictions, including those co-authored by Parmesan in a 2001 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, were that species restricted to cold climate habitats like the Earth's poles or mountain tops and with narrow temperature tolerances (for example, tropical corals) would be most affected by global warming. Less than a decade later, those predictions have been born out.

The most sensitive species are going extinct and/or shifting their ranges geographically as their original habitats become inhospitable. The studies reviewed by Parmesan reveal this trend will continue.

"Some species that are adapted to a wide array of environments--globally common, or what we ca
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Contact: Camille Parmesan
parmesan@mail.utexas.edu
512-232-1860
University of Texas at Austin
14-Nov-2006


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