Global Warming Causing Plant, Bird and Insect Species to Appear Earlier than Expected

It looks as though global warming has been doing much more than just alter climate regimes and physical environments: it's actually been shifting seasons forward as well. A new report in Current Biology has shown that spring in Greenland now starts much earlier than it did even a decade ago, with some plant, bird and insect species appearing up to 30 days prematurely as a result.

Biologists from Denmark's National Environmental Research Institute led by Toke Hoye spent the past 10 years monitoring the ecosystem near the Zackenberg Research Station above the Arctic Circle in northeastern Greenland, a region particularly hard hit by global warming with temperatures rising at twice the global rate. They were stunned by what they saw in some of the species present in the area."At this time, we have already achieved an outstanding knowledge of not only the responses of plants and birds to climate change in the High Arctic, but also how an entire ecosystem responds to the changes," said Hoye.

Hoye and his team determined than, on average, spring in the Zackenberg ecosystem had advanced by approximately 14.5 days. This contrasts with similar studies conducted in Europe that have shown plants flowering an average of 2-3 days early compared to 10 years ago.

Out of the two dozen plant, bird and insect species they studied, only two appeared later than expected. The study's results indicate that species in the areas most affected by global warming are able to quickly react by moving forward their emergence times to match the earlier arrival of spring. This is most likely due to the fact that many species, particularly plants, are most active during the spring, both in terms of development/growth and reproduction.

Image courtesy of Spiegel Online

Via ::Birds and Bees Prematurely Active in Greenland (newspaper)

See also: ::NASA Finds Greenland Becoming More Green by the Day, ::The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report, ::Positive Reinforcement: The Economist on Feedback Loops, ::Butterflies: Harbingers of Climate Change

Related Content on