Posted on January 17, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Wildflowers are blooming much earlier than just a few decades ago due to global warming. Bob Berwyn photo.
Some wildflowers blooming weeks earlier than just a few decades ago
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Henry David Thoreau and Aldo Leopold would probably appreciate that their meticulous observations of nature are helping today’s scientists unravel some of the mysteries of global warming.
The two naturalists kept detailed phenological records, noting when certain flowers bloomed in the spring, and today’s researchers now now that some native plants in the eastern United States are flowering as much as a month earlier in response to a warming climate.
“These historical records provide a snapshot in time and a baseline of sorts against which we can compare more recent records from the period in which climate change has accelerated,” explains Stan Temple, a co-author of the study and an emeritus UW-Madison professor of wildlife ecology. Temple is also a senior fellow at the Aldo Leopold Foundation in Baraboo, Wis., a stone’s throw from the iconic shack where Leopold made many of his observations. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Environment, global warming, seasons | Tagged: Aldo Leopold, climate change, Environment, global warming, Henry David Thoreau, phenology | Leave a Comment »
Posted on June 1, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
A broad-tailed hummingbird feeds on larkspur. PHOTO COURTESY David Inouye.
The birds might disappear from parts of their range within a few decades
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Broad-tail hummingbirds that migrate to the Colorado high country in the spring may soon find that their arrival is out of synch with key nectar-providing plants they need to sustain themselves during breeding.
Graceful glacier lilies, for example, are one of the first flowers to bloom when the snow melts, but meticulous research at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory near Crested Butte shows they are blooming 17 days earlier than in the 1970s.
The hummingbirds are also migrating a bit earlier, but perhaps not soon enough — by the time they arrive, many of the nectar-laden plants have withered away. Biologists calculate that, if current trends continue, in two decades the hummingbirds will miss the first flowers entirely. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, climate and weather, Environment, global warming | Tagged: Broad-tailed Hummingbird, climate change, global warming, hummingbirds, phenology, Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory | 2 Comments »
Posted on May 7, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
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. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, climate and weather, Environment, global warming | Tagged: climate. global warming, Environment, National Science Foundation, phenology, plant response to climate change, University of British Columbia | Leave a Comment »
Posted on May 31, 2010 by Bob Berwyn
Desert dust is causing the snow to melt up to two weeks sooner in places like the alpine tundra around Loveland Pass. PHOTO BY BOB BERWYN.
San Juan research shows potential for landscape-level genetic impacts
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Desert dust blown on to high country peaks is not only affecting the timing of snowmelt and runoff, but is also changing the growth and reproductive patterns of plants in Colorado’s alpine zone, according to recent studies conducted in the San Juan Mountains.
Snow is melting off the high alpine tundra earlier — by as much as two weeks. As a result, growth and flowering patterns are becoming more synchronized across the landscape. Instead of growing and blooming in phases, different plants are all flowering at the same time.
This can lead to increased competition for nutrients and for pollinating birds and insects. The changes in timing could have fundamental genetic impacts, with a chance for altered species interactions, including landscape-scale gene flow via pollination, and nutrient cycling. The shifts in vegetation patterns could even affect larger herbivores that browse on alpine plants, including bighorn sheep, as changes in the availability of food impact reproduction. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, Environment, seasons, Summit County Colorado | Tagged: alpine wildflowers, botany, Colorado, conservation, desert dust in Colorado mountains, ecology, Environment, phenology, Summit County Colorado, Summit County News | 3 Comments »