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Plants are also migrating, driven by the acceleration of climate change.

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Driven by rising temperatures, many plant species are fleeing areas that are too hot to migrate to higher altitudes or latitudes. The phenomenon is accelerating everywhere, especially in Europe where a large international study has observed, for the first time, the migration of entire colonies of plants to seemingly more hospitable peaks. This is changing ecosystems and landscapes at great speed.
 
Ahe biodiversity of mountain peaks is increasing dramatically. And this is not good news. It is the result of plant migrations driven by the "great acceleration" of climate change. This alarming observation is the result of a vast study carried out by some fifty European researchers, the results of which are published in the journal Nature. Scientists have, for the first time, measured the long-term evolution of the flora of 302 European massifs over a period of 145 years: Alps, Pyrenees, Carpathians, peaks of Scotland, Scandinavia, Norway, etc..
 
For 87% of them, the plants took advantage of increasingly mild weather conditions to colonize them. A migration that concerns even species known to move slowly. The number of plant species that colonised the European peaks between 2007 and 2016 would thus be five times higher than that observed between 1957 and 1966.
There is no doubt in the minds of scientists that this acceleration is caused by rising temperatures. Indeed, the rise in temperatures has reached 2°C or 3°C in some massifs over the past century, with a more pronounced upward curve in recent decades.
 
Researchers also note that other global factors such as pollutant-related atmospheric nitrogen deposition or human use of the summits do not explain this acceleration.
 

Great acceleration

The "great acceleration", whether biological, meteorological or chemical, is a concept proposed by several scientists, including the Dutchman Paul Crutzen, winner of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, to describe the exponential growth of alterations in the biosphere that characterize the anthropocene, the geological epoch when man became the main force acting on the Earth.
The phenomenon observed since the 1950s by the scientific community is " today perceptible in the most remote sites of the planet: the mountain peaks ", the CNRS points out in a press release.
 
These mountain ecosystems could also be "severely disturbed in the future," notes the CNRS.
For, if at first, biodiversity is growing, without any extinction observed in the immediate future, this may not last: researchers warn against the disappearance of certain plants from the summits, unable to compete with the more competitive generalist species from the lower levels. « Increased species richness should be a transitory phenomenon, hiding the accumulation of an extinction debt.  to come", prevents the study. Aggravating factor is that newcomer plants in an ecosystem are generally more vigorous, and their size and larger leaf area promote photosynthesis. Native populations will not be able to resist them.
 
Even if biodiversity is increasing, it is not necessarily something that can be sustained. "says one of the authors, Jonathan Lenoir, a researcher at the CNRS, to the AFP. The plants on the summits will eventually be able to withstand temperature variations, but not necessarily competition, with the risk of seeing generalist species". supplanting emblematic, and often endemic, species found only there. ", notes the ecologist.
 
The Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity (IPBES) has just produced a new and alarming assessment of the state of the world's biodiversity. In Europe, 42% of terrestrial animal and plant species have seen their populations decline over the last ten years.
 
Sources: CNRS, Nature, AFP
 

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