Climate change set to re-shape tropical forests

A paper published in the Journal of Global Change Biology this week indicates that climate change is already having an impact on tropical forests in Costa Rica. The study, which was conducted over 20 years, indicates that if current warming trends continue, we could see the species composition of rainforests change as a consequence.

Future conditions are predicted to reduce biodiversity as plants adapted to survive in drier environments such as deciduous canopy trees will be favored at the expense of other species which will not be able to compete. A climate induced re-shape in the forest profile may additionally have detrimental impacts on both future carbon storage, and ecosystem service provision.

Such research is particularly relevant in light of the forthcoming BES Annual Symposium entitled ‘Forests and global change’ due to take place on 28-30th March 2011 at the University of Cambridge. The symposium will bring together expertise in rainforest ecology and climate change to discuss emerging themes in forest ecology and conservation.