As we continue to witness the devastating effects of climate change, it is essential to research and understand how local flora and fauna are being impacted. For many species, the repercussions can be grave; changes in temperature have caused extreme shifts in geographic locations, decreased biodiversity, lower birth rates, and an increase in extinction risk.
In this blog post, we’ll look at some of the most salient examples of these effects on both plants and animals across the world — from tropical savannas to arctic tundras — in order to illuminate just how far-reaching this environmental crisis truly is.
The survival of local flora and fauna is dependent on the climate. Unfortunately, human activities such as pollution and deforestation have resulted in shifts in the climatic weather conditions that were a norm in different parts of the world. In short, climate change has significant negative ramifications on plants and animals.
What is Climate Change?
Climate change refers to the long-term alteration of the Earth’s climate system. It affects numerous areas of our planet, including:
- Arctic sea ice shelf collapsing
- rising sea levels
- changes in the average temperature
- precipitation patterns
- weather phenomena
All of the above have occurred over the past century and are projected to continue.
This climate change is mainly caused by human activities such as burning fossil fuels and deforestation, which increase the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and trap heat, leading to global warming.
How Climate Change Affects Flora and Fauna
Now that you know what climate change is, let’s shift gears and look at how it effects local flora and fauna.
Promotes the Spread of Pathogens, Diseases, and Parasites
Parasites, pathogens, and diseases affect both vegetation and animals. Research shows that shifts in climatic weather conditions or ecological conditions influence the spread of parasites, diseases, and pathogens. These three cause serious harm to not only human health but also pose a danger to fisheries and agriculture.
For example, an oyster parasite called Perkinsus Marinus is known for its potent ability to wipe out large populations of oysters. The rising seas and average winter temperatures due to climate change have resulted in this parasite extending its geographical range and impact from the Chesapeake Bay to Maine.
Increases the Risk of Extinction
Hundreds, if not thousands, of native plant and animal species are on the verge of going extinct due to changes in weather conditions in their natural habitats. They cannot adapt to the changes such as increased temperatures, unprecedented rainfall, snow, etc.
Concisely, climate change increases the risk of some local flora and fauna species going extinct. A report by IPCC shows that 20 -30% of animal and plant species are at risk of being wiped out due to an increase in temperature if nothing is done to combat the effects by the end of this century.
Animals currently well adapted to the highlands or mountain environments, such as bears and Pikas, are at a higher risk than their counterparts. Also, the survival of animals adapted to the sea ecological environment, such as cold-water fish species, polar bears, salmon, and ringed seals, is at risk.
To give you a better understanding of the danger climate change poses to native species, picture this. Brook trout is a freshwater fish predominantly found in the North Eastern United States. It thrives in cold and clear stream habitats.
Unfortunately, an invasive fish species, brown trout, has infiltrated their natural habitat. Brown trout are well adapted to high river and ocean temperatures. Therefore, they are not affected by the rise in temperatures like the brook trout.
Research conducted by US Geological Survey in 2017 revealed that brook trout could adapt to warmer waters, but their survival is lower if brown trout are also in the same ecosystem.
Produces Extreme Weather Events
Increase in rainfall results in flooding in parts of the world that never used to flood a few decades ago. Rising sea levels are also a leading cause of flooding along the shores of oceans and depleting coral reef ecosystems. Consequently, rising temperatures result in prolonged drought in Kenya, Nigeria, and Sudan.
Extreme weather conditions, such as increasing temperatures, affect habitats and ecosystems. They make it difficult for both plants and animals to survive. Those unable to adapt to the changes quickly are at risk of being wiped out.
High temperatures are also one of the leading causes of frequent forest fires. These fires result in the loss of animals and plant species. Speedy flood waters spend less time undergoing purification in wetlands and ground. As a result, the water causes severe water pollution affecting local aquatic plants and animal species.
Ways of Dealing with the Effects of Climate Change
Even though climate change disrupts local flora and fauna, all is not lost. Government and non-governmental organizations such as UNEP have put in place measures to help communities adapt to the changes in weather patterns.
Some of the strategies implemented across the globe are;
- Creating awareness in local communities about the effects of climate change and ways people can adapt sufficiently to the changes.
- Creation and implementation of new environmental policies to deal with climate change
- Developing methods of curbing deforestation, such as afforestation
- Educating businesses about the effects of carbon emissions on the global climate
- Providing incentives to encourage companies to shift to green and cleaner technologies
Climate change is real, and the effects of climate change are undeniable. We can no longer afford to ignore or think of it as a scientific myth. The adverse effects are felt globally, and not even developed countries are immune to them. The impact of climate change on local flora and fauna should be the primary consideration when developing policies combating the changes.
That being said, we must take responsibility for our actions by putting in place policies that directly respond to the impact of climate change on flora and fauna. Education is key when it comes to implementing policies. Businesses should be educated about the effects of their carbon emissions on the global climate so that practical solutions can be proposed immediately.
We owe it to ourselves and future generations to take meaningful steps toward addressing environmental challenges. Only through our individual commitment and dedication can we create a brighter and flourishing planet for everyone.