As Weeds Contend With Climate Change, Gardeners Rejoice


Can you tell the grasses from the weeds? A shifting climate could change the 'weedscape' in Southern Australia. Image credit: suburbanbloke/Flickr

Climate change is making Southern Australia hotter and drier; and these changes are having a significant impact on the biodiversity—of weeds. Recent projections have shown that the shifting climate could have a "dramatic effect on the distribution and abundance of weeds"—changes that could have both good and bad implications for farmers, gardeners, and the local ecosystems.Darren Kriticos, of CSIRO's Climate Adaptation Flagship, explained:

Existing weed problems in northern areas of the State may shift further south. Landholders may have to deal with species where they have no past experience. In fact, we may be seeing a case of weed change.

But the report, Lead Author Kriticos added, is not all bad news. Given the early warning of the shift in weed species and populations, landowners have the opportunity to adapt before it's too late. "As the climate warms," he said, "the geographic range of some of the weeds that prefer cooler conditions may be reduced." He went on to explain:

If we can prevent the replacement with other weeds we may be able to put the squeeze on some weeds, particularly the notoriously destructive weeds Bridal Creeper and Scotch Broom.

Weed control and the loss they represent to production cost the country four billion Australian dollars each year. Kriticos said:

Being forearmed with this knowledge and sharing information with those who deal with the likely 'weeds of tomorrow' will give communities an increased awareness and ability to strategically control potential future problem weeds.

Improved weed-control strategy could help reduce the cost of this war to preserve Australia's biodiversity.

Read more about weeds:
USDA Study: Climate Change Could Benefit Super Weeds More Than Crops
Super Weeds, Bees, and Diabetes: 7 Food Safety Predictions
On Pulling Weeds With Salazar - Outside Jobs Versus Flipping Burgers

Tags: Conservation | Global Warming Effects