Species Placed in Simulator of Earth's Future Climate

Photo: { pranav } / cc

If the projections of countless scientists are correct, the climate of this planet will be markedly different by the end of this century -- but for a group of plants and animals, that future is now. A team of biologists have undertaken an unprecedented experiment to see how species native to the Amazon rainforest will fare in changing climates by subjecting them to conditions that mimic the hotter, more polluted world that may be on its way.
An international team of 200 scientists, working in partnership with Brazil's National Institute for Amazon Research (INPA) have collected hundreds of plants, insects, fish, and other animals native to the Amazon to expose them to future climate scenerios -- in a project called Adapta. The species will be housed in three separate, environmentally controlled rooms which will simulate conditions projected for 25, 50, and 100 years into the future, respectively.

Photo: Adapta

"We want to understand how organisms live and are used to change the natural environment. Another important point to be discovered is whether these species are able to adapt to changes made by man and that happen more quickly, " project cordinater Val Vera told G1 Globo.

According to the report, special machines will pump carbon dioxide into the testing facilities and the thermostat will be raised to reflect future climate projections outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The team of scientists will observe how these species, sampled from one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems on the planet, will adapt.

Experts says that by the end of this century, global temperatures will increase around 6ºC, though little is known about how plant and animals will cope in the hotter world.

After a period of around six months, or longer depending on the lifecycle of the species involved, scientists will perform genetic sequencing on their DNA for future testing, and, says Vera, to learn "if there are genes resistant to climate change that may help or hinder the evolution of fauna and flora."

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Tags: Amazonia | Evolution | Global Climate Change