Raising temperatures might not have as big influence on tree species in the Amazon forest as previously predicted. The latest issue of the journal Ecology and Evolution published a study that reports on tree species that have existed for more than 8 million years.
This means that they have survived changes in climate as severe as what current models predict for year 2100.
Given that no major environmental changes besides rising temperatures take place, the authors demonstrate that these species are very likely to survive future warming. Of course, droughts and forest fires still present danger, so the study recommends reduction in greenhouse emissions so that such disasters are prevented.
Furthermore, the study encourages governments to continue establishing and shaping up policies that will prevent deforestation for agriculture and mining.
It is interesting to see such controversial to other research study. Dr Simon Lewis from UCL Geography is very pleased with the findings and proudly states that such news is very good for the future of the Amazon. Nevertheless, he is still convinced that while some trees can survive, deforestation still presents a high risk for the forest biodiversity.
In addition, he points out that it is still quite difficult to compare the past with what is to come because of the much larger population and the much faster increase in temperatures. One of the key conclusions from the study is that human impact is the highest danger, considering the current rate of cutting trees for infrastructure and agriculture.
The study looks at 12 tree species that are native to the Amazon and present in Panama, Ecuador, Brazil, Peru, French Guiana and Bolivia. The age of the species was determined using sequenced DNA and analysis of genetic mutations. A molecular clock approach and population genetic models were used to estimate the number of years needed for each mutation to take place.
Analyzing the climate events that have happened over the estimated period for species existence, it was clear that the trees have survived warmer temperatures. The early Pliocene Epoch 3.6 to 5 million years ago, as well as the late Miocene Epoch 5.3 to 11.5 million years ago, were characterized with temperatures predicted by the IPCC for 2100