Wednesday, January 19, 2022

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Groups representing young people in Montana hope to stop a slate of election laws from going into effect before a June primary; Texas falls short on steps to prevent the next winter power outage.

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Democrats get voting rights legislation to Senate floor; Sec. of State Antony Blinken heads to Ukraine; a federal appeals court passes along a challenge to Texas' abortion ban.

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New website profiles missing and murdered Native Americans; more support for young, rural Minnesotans who've traded sex for food, shelter, drugs or alcohol; more communities step up to solve "period poverty;" and find your local gardener - Jan. 29 is National Seed Swap Day.

Mountain Plants, Wildlife More Vulnerable to Climate Change than Expected

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Wednesday, August 10, 2016   

CHEYENNE, Wyo. - Plants and animals living in the Rocky Mountain West could face bigger challenges than previously expected as global temperatures rise, according to a new study by the University of Montana.

Its lead author, Solomon Dobrowski, an associate professor of forest landscape ecology, said as climate change makes their current homes inhospitable, both wildlife and plant life will face four options.

"Basically as the earth warms, if you're a plant or an animal living in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, you're going to have to either adapt to those changes; you'll have to tolerate those changes; you'll have to move or you'll go locally extinct," he said.

Because mountain areas contain multiple micro-climates, scientists had predicted organisms living there wouldn't have to travel far to find cooler habitats. But Dobrowski's research found even short migrations could expose plants and animals to potentially life-threatening variations in temperatures, moisture and soil quality.

He explained the complexity of mountain topography creates variable climates close together, which is one reason they support roughly one-quarter of the planet's biodiversity, and are home to nearly half of the world's biodiversity hotspots.

Dobrowski said those variances also pose risks, however.

"So, if you think about moving from one mountaintop to another mountaintop, you often have to traverse a very warm valley in between," he explained. "And organisms, through time, that warm valley may preclude them from actually being able to migrate and keep pace with climate change."

He noted Rocky Mountain states are already seeing some impacts of climate-related migration. He cited the disappearance of white-bark pine, a prominent food source for grizzlies, as one reason bears have moved to lower elevations in search of food, increasing their contact with people.

The full study is online here.


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