A study made by Susan Harrison, Elise Gornish and Stella Copeland affiliated with the University of California, has determined that the State’s wildflower population is dropping due to climate change.
After studying the grassland communities the researchers concluded that 15 years of climatic drying have led to directional losses of plant species diversity.
The most affected seems to be the annual forb (wildflower) species which has a low drought tolerance.
The study was based on the monitoring of McLaughlin Reserve sampling plots totaling eighty in number. The monitoring period was 15 consecutive years.
The 15 year period was marked by escalating temperatures , drought and dry winters, in the state of California.
This climate change has affected the wildflowers, decreasing it’s diversity by 15 % over the monitoring period.
Researchers have claimed in the study that “Climate-driven diversity decline is occurring at a scale that is visible to the relatively casual observer,”
The team also said that large-scale extinctions could follow the pattern observed in the diversity loses recorded in the wildflower population. This is most likely to happen in regions that are becoming increasingly dry due to climate change.
If the climate change predictions put forward by weather specialists, are going to happen, the effects could escalate.
Grassland communities will produce less, which in turn will decrease the nutritional availability for herbivores.
Changes in the local environment might also determine invasion by exotic species and decrease the population of native ones.
In order to be sure of the results the team has excluded changes and data that occurred during California’s severe drought period of 2013 and 2014.
Researchers have been investigating the McLaughlin Natural Reserve which is a protective area of around 7000 acres and serves as a outdoor laboratory for ecologists, biologists and other specialists.
If the current climate warming pattern continues, the soil of California might lose part of its bio-diversity, through the reduction of plant populations.
This could affect the microbiological variance in the soil, and thus provide less food for the native insects and animals.
To further exclude other factors that might determine a loss in plant population, the team researchers made sure that the sites contained fertile soils and had no reported wildfires or grazing trails.
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