Climate-change ecology

Australian tree range threatened

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Climate change could shrink the geographic range of most of Australia's eucalyptus species within the next 60 years.

Jason Edwards/National Geographic Creative

Eucalypt trees (Eucalyptus, Corymbia and Angophora) are abundant in Australia (Eucalyptus terminalis and Corymbia opaca, pictured). Carlos González-Orozco, now at the Colombian Organisation for Agricultural Research in Meta, Bernd Gruber at the University of Canberra and their team used models to predict the distribution of some 650 tree species under various climate-change scenarios. They found that a 3 °C rise over the next 60 years would, on average, reduce the climatically suitable habitat for 91% of the species by half. And some 90% of suitable habitats that host a high concentration of rare and evolutionarily old species could disappear or move south.

These losses could seriously threaten the diversity of the trees and their genetic ability to adapt to climate change.

Nature Clim. Change (2016)

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