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Climate: World’s biggest, oldest trees dying fast

Global trend concerns leading ecologists

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Ancient Colorado lodgepole pines have been killed by pine beetles, Bob Berwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Colorado ‘s old lodgepoles aren’t the only forest giants that are dying. Around the world, the biggest, oldest trees that harbor and sustain countless birds and other wildlife, are meeting the same fate.

Three of the world’s leading ecologists say they’ve documented an alarming increase in the death rate of trees between 100 and 300 years old in many of the world’s forests, woodlands, savannahs, farming areas and even in cities.

“It’s a worldwide problem and appears to be happening in most types of forest,” said lead author Professor David Lindenmayer, of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions and Australian National University. Continue reading

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Global warming: Plants respond faster than expected

If wild berries aren’t available when needed, bears look for food elswhere, including around human neighborhoods.

Global study shows that plants are developing earlier in the spring in response to warmer temps

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Many plants appear to be responding to global warming faster than anticipated by climate models, as trees leaf out and flower bloom on average about five to six days earlier for each degree (Celsius) of warming.

The observed response, based on results from 50 plant studies on four continents, is much greater than the changes induced under laboratory conditions. Changes in the timing of when plants develop has implications for entire ecoystems. There is already some evidence that the availability of food sources is out of synch with animals that depend on them.

“This suggests that predicted ecosystem changes — including continuing advances in the start of spring across much of the globe — may be far greater than current estimates based on data from experiments,” said Elizabeth Wolkovich, an ecologist at the University of British Columbia who led an interdisciplinary team of scientists that conducted the study while she was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Diego. Continue reading

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