Could the Amazon lose 69% of its plant species?

A WWF study warns that if the temperature rises 4.5 ºC, the species in the southern hemisphere could become extinct

Could the Amazon lose 69% of its plant species?

Leer en español: ¿Podría el Amazonas perder el 69% de sus especies de plantas?

The international environmental organization World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the universities of East Anglia in the United Kingdom and James Cook University in Australia warn that half of the animals and plants in various ecosystems are at risk from climate change.

The regions that would be in danger are:

  • The Amazon and the Galapagos Islands in South America
  • The Wooded Savannah of Miombo in Africa
  • The southwestern Australian

These three ecosystems are the ones with the greatest natural wealth in the world. Even if the ceiling of 2 ° C of the Paris Agreements is met, these regions would lose up to 25% of their species, the study says.

The study investigated the effect of climate change on nearly 80 thousand species of animals and plants in 35 of the most diverse and richest ecosystems in the world. It was possible to demonstrate the changes that can occur in different scenarios, from one in which greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced (reaching temperatures of 4.5ºC above the average), up to an increase of 2ºC which is the limit in the Paris Agreements. The great risk is that each of these habitats is unique and contains endemic species that do not inhabit any other place.

For example, 90% of amphibians, 86% of birds, and 80% of mammals could become extinct in the African Miombo. On the other hand, the Amazon forest could lose 69% of the plant species. Furthermore, 89% of the amphibians of southwestern Australia would also be at risk, as would 60% of all species unique in Madagascar.

According to the report, "the Fynboss plant formation located in the Cape region of South Africa (which is experiencing droughts that threaten to leave all of Cape Town without water) could lose 1 third of the species, many of which are unique to the region".

These changes will also affect the pressure of water consumed by elephants (who drink 150 to 300 liters per day). Additionally, 96% of the breeding places of the Bengal tigers would be below the sea.

Researchers believe that the only way to reduce possible extinction is for species to move from their habitat and adapt to other areas. However, they warn that several plants, amphibians, and reptiles (such as orchids, frogs and lizards) could not migrate so quickly.

 

Latin American Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández
Translated from “ ¿Podría el Amazonas perder el 69% de sus especies de plantas?”

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