The Effects of Climate Change on the Evolution of Plants

Greenhouse gasses include carbon dioxide, methane, water vapor, etc. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a gas in the atmosphere which plays a huge role in climate change because it traps in the heat from the sun into the environment. Over production of CO2 by plants, soil, and animals may produce an overheated atmosphere (Schlesinger and Andrews, 2000). This in turn changes the environment in which plants survive and thus it’s important to understand the implications climate change has on the evolution of plants.

Animals play an important role when it comes to plants since they aid in seed distribution and they feed off of plants as well. Animals also play a role in soil respiration which adds more CO2 into the atmosphere. According to Jump and Peñuelas (2005) as the climate changes the weather species begin to migrate to find food and a more suitable environment in which they can strive. This means more invasive species enter the same environment as plants and thus create competition between plants for seed dispersal. It’s also important to remember that as the weather changes so does the composition of the soil and quantity of water provided for plants. This could mean more death of plants if there is over production of heat in their environment and lack of water from rain or dry soil. On the other hand the article noted that plants have “internal buffers” which allow them to survive one degree Celsius changes in the weather (Jump and Peñuelas, 2005). This means they have a longer time period, 35-55 years, to adapt to the new circumstances (Jump and Peñuelas, 2005).

Adaption to new conditions does not come easy for plants. They are able to adjust and begin to have genetic variation as new animals enter their environments and allow for seed distribution but adaption will occur at a much slower rate (Jump and Peñuelas, 2005).

References

  1. Jump A.S., and Peñuelas. 2005. Running to stand still: adaptation and the response of plants to rapid climate change. Ecology Letters. 8: 1010-1020.
  2. Schlesinger W.H., and Andrews J.A. 2000. Soil respiration and the global carbon cycle. Biogeochemistry. 48:7-20.

 

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