Climate Change: Early Flowering in UK

As per a study, climate change is causing plants in United Kingdom (UK) to flower almost a month earlier on average.

Highlights

  • Due to warmer weather, autumn leaf has started to fall and flowers are appearing earlier on shrubs and trees.
  • Though some are welcoming these untimely blooms, scientists are warning of climate risks.
  • If the trend continues, there are knock-on effects for insects, birds, and whole ecosystems.

Risk of Ecological mismatch

Untimely flowering might lead to ecological mismatch. It would have a dramatic effect “on functioning and productivity” of farming and nature. Global warming is resulting into early arrival of spring and late arrival of autumn in many places. Not all animals and plants are adapting at the same rate. If these species get out of sync with each other, it could lead to ecological mismatch.

Risk associated with food resources

Pollen, seeds, nectar and fruits of plants are important food resources for birds, insects and other wildlife. If flowers appear too early, they can be hit by frost. Thus, harvest of fruit trees can be damaged.

Nature’s calendar

Study considered hundreds of thousands of observations of first flowering dates of native trees, herbs, shrubs, and climbers, which were recorded in a citizen science database called Nature’s Calendar. It goes back to the 18th Century. The study encompassed whole of UK and Northern Ireland. Researchers compared the first flowering dates of 406 plant species and found that, early flowering is correlated with rising global temperatures.

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