Global warming could have a negative impact on biodiversity generation processes

This is one of the conclusions of an international study focused on the causes of the evolutionary success of Carex, one of the genera of flowering plants with the highest number of species in the world

Universidad Pablo de Olavide UPO

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Carex. Credit: ©pablodeolavide

In the current climate change scenario, an international team led by researchers from Pablo de Olavide University (UPO) and the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM) has carried out research that suggests global warming could have a negative impact on the processes that generate biodiversity. This is one of the conclusions of a study, recently published in the international scientific Journal of Systematics and Evolution, that focuses on the causes of the evolutionary success of Carex, one of the worlds’ three largest genera of flowering plants. The results suggest that this success is linked to the relatively cold climate of the planet during the last 10 million years, which favoured the colonization of new territories and ecosystems.

Carex is a group of herbs belonging to the sedge family (Cyperaceae), a family that includes well-known species as papyrus or tiger nut. More than 2000 Carex species are known throughout the world and inhabit a wide variety of ecosystems, from the poles to the tropics and from the coasts to the highest mountains, although always linked to areas with temperate and cold climates. In many regions, especially in the northern hemisphere, their species are part of certain types of dominant vegetation and play a fundamental ecological role in habitats as varied as tundra, grasslands, wetlands, peat bogs, river and lake borders, or forest understories. In addition, these plants are an important food source for numerous waterfowl and herbivorous mammals, and some of them exhibit medicinal or nutritional properties exploited by humans.

The study was focused on the analysis of the causes for the enormous diversity of Carex species, concluding that climate cooling was a key factor behind their speciation. “The study is the first to deal with global distribution patterns and diversification of a megadiverse genus of plants and suggests that not only is climate warming causing the extinction of species, but also could negatively affect the processes that generate them,” says Santiago Martín-Bravo, researcher at UPO’s Botany Area and one of the study’s main co-authors.

In this study genetic and fossil information was combined to unravel the causes of Carex global diversification. The work shows that this genus originated in Asia, from where it has been able to colonize regions around the world and remarkably different ecological niches. During this process, Carex has been clearly favoured by the cold global climate sustained for the past 10 million years. This is evidenced by the concurrence of regional cooling events such as the freezing of Antarctica or Pleistocene glaciations and the massive appearance of Carex species in regions affected by these climatic changes, e.g. North America or New Zealand.

The conclusions of this work are of broad general interest to understand how, when and why species are generated, as well as the causes of their uneven distribution, and especially the role of the global climate as a driver of the genesis of biodiversity. “These questions are particularly significant in the current context of climate crisis and mass extinction of species, which emphasizes the need to know and understand how nature responds to the climate if we are to preserve and manage it in a sustainable way,” argues Pedro Jiménez-Mejías, researcher of UAM’s Botany Area and another of the main co-authors of the work.

The study featured on the cover of November issue of the international scientific journal Journal of Systematics and Evolution. It represents the culmination of more than a decade’s work initiated with Jiménez-Mejías’ postdoctoral project, developed in the United States, and has enabled international collaboration between a group of evolutionary biologists and botanists from institutions in ten countries, among which Spain (with researchers from the universities Pablo de Olavide, Autonomous of Madrid and Seville, as well as the Royal Botanic Gardens in Madrid) and the United States stand out.

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From EurekAlert!

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79 thoughts on “Global warming could have a negative impact on biodiversity generation processes

  1. Banging head on desk…. Adapting to a changing environment is what pushes evolution. Assuming Carex appeared and diversified while adapting to cold, there is absolutely no reason to think similar adaptations would occur if the world were warming. Who are the reviewers of this garbage?

      • So their conclusion would appear to be that global warming is so favourable to life that it no longer is stressed enough to evolve. Can’t wait for the next glaciation, it will be really good for “diversity”. Though I’ll bet that gender-diverse SJWs will not make it out the other side of the selection process.

        Vive la rechauffement planetaire!

    • Not schist Sherlock, change and stress in the environment is what forces change and adaptation. Where is their control group study of how plants respond to the stress of too much warmth and drought?

      CO2 10 million years ago was similar to today, at the lower end of what a C4 genus like Carex can stand.

      Typically myoptic pseudo-science where you throw objective investigation out of the window and try to create a narrative which fits the CAGW agenda of you paymasters.

    • One shouldn’t worry about survival of the Carex genera, ….. it is a plant for “all reasons, all seasons and most all climates”, to wit:

      The Carex species is self pollenating. Propagation is by seed or division in spring.

      Most sedges are found in wetlands – such as marshes, calcareous fens, bogs and other peatlands, pond and stream banks, riparian zones, and even ditches. They are one of the dominant plant groups in arctic and alpine tundra, and in wetland habitats with a water depth of up to 50 cm (20 in).

      Carex species and cultivars are popular in horticulture, particularly in shady positions. Native species are used in wildland habitat restoration projects, natural landscaping, and in sustainable landscaping as drought-tolerant grass replacements for lawns and garden meadows. Some require damp or wet conditions, others are relatively drought-tolerant.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carex

      • Carex are very efficient spreaders. Their radiation into such a large diversity of species in six continents indicates a fair capacity for survival given half a chance.

        It’s another climate change botanical beat up to add to all the others.

    • Tropical rainforests no longer excel in biodiversity. Now it is arctic tundra. Science can be so amazing.

    • Indeed, rhoda. Just look at the diversity of plants in Antarctica today, and compare it with a tropical rainforest.

      The main problem seems to be a like of diversity of brain cells, where several of these researchers appear to have to share one between them.

      • Who says that scientists should not be inept? We need more inept scientists, for the sake of diversity.

    • Rhoda, the warmer medieval period had vinyards in Scotland, and grain, vegetables, sheep etc. in Greenland. Then we decended into the Little Ice Age. Global warming is hopefully what the globe does after such events. The Great Greening is taking care of diversity, wild habitat and giving humans bumper crops.

      Life must be totally bleak for doctrinaire lefties who tried to disappear both the medi warm period and the LIA. Spouses and pets of these doomster folk must be living in hell.

  2. It’s been warmer before, it’s been colder before, it’s been warmer before, etc., etc. And these are supposed to be scientists! Climate has always been changing for goodness sake. That’s how we got here with this biodiversity. And it will continue.

    • They are supposed to be scientists but they are Actually bureaucrats with a 21st century social science degree in how to dupe people into voting for a socialist by menacing them with hobgoblins all imaginary.

      Most colleges dress up the syllabus by calling the degree program: Climate Science despite the fact that there is no actual Scientific Discipline by that name. Besides if they created one, the curriculum would not actually require real science and math.

    • What really drives speciation, from the fossil record, is a huge extinction event. That leaves big holes in the biosphere which immediately starts to fill them. It does it by genetic variation- some species have thousands of genes, others, like humans have much less. The current Homo sapiens appears to be what survived some sort of extinction event about 70,000 years ago. The 4 or 5 other varieties didn’t make it.

      I’ve also seen a couple papers(not sure where) about Trofim Lysenko’s theory that the environment could make inheritable changes to the genome. It appears that parts of the ‘silent’ DNA, all the DNA between the actual active genes, can make changes to how the active genes are expressed. And this silent DNA to at least some degree, appears to be able to change in response to the environment making differences in gene expression.

      Take this with a grain of salt. The relevant papers were mostly from EUREKALERT!
      Since we are only now just getting a handle on how our genes work exploiting this may take awhile.

  3. …These questions are particularly significant in the current context of climate crisis and mass extinction of species, which emphasizes the need to know and understand how nature responds to the climate …

    All living organisms respond to changes in there niche by adapting, evolving or die out and another species will fill the niche in that food web. I direct the authors to look at the finches of the Galapagos island as reported by Darwin. I just find it so disheartening what Biologist will say to get funding .

  4. Nature optimises the way it works at all times. That’s what evolution is all about.

    So, at any one time, everything is optimised for just those conditions, and ANY other conditions will be sub-optimal. So a researcher does not have to try very hard to predict a negative impact due to any change.

    However, if a set of new conditions emerges, Nature will change in response to it. And everything will be optimal again.

    The same thing happens with most structures. Put a new tax on banks and people will predict an economic collapse. But once the tax is factored in, who is surprised to find banks making just as much profit as before…?

    • Yes, using “could”, “may”, “might” or similar is a sign of speculation, not facts or data. Who needs that? I can guess as well as anybody else.

  5. Did the diversity and growth of caretex go down during MWP and RWP, and did it go up during LIA?

    particularly significant in the current context of climate crisis and mass extinction of species

    What are they talking about? – Is this just money making work for biologist who cannot get a useful job within their field?

    • One model predicts that in a rapidly warming world, a lot of species should die.
      Then, despite a lack of evidence that the world is warming rapidly, as well as there being no evidence that lots of species are dying, everyone just assumes that the first prediction must be true, and moves forward from there.

    • There’s a lot of bio-diversity in my freezer.
      We’ve got the frozen peas, the frozen carrots, a chunk of turkey, some ham, etc.

  6. A positive… negative… changing effect. A dynamic… a chaotic (“evolutionary”) effect, yes. Show us the fitness function.

  7. Not going to spend time finding and reading. Did it have any scientific data about actual temperature ranges and reproduction rates, etc.? Or, did it just use a generic hotter is worse meme?

    • RoRo, links pls! incl. lots of proof!

      ( maybe Pablo de Olavide University (UPO) or the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM) supports an online form to fill in cross-checks, counterproof and countersamples incl. links )

    • Crikey, indeed!

      Having experimented with that stuff a few times, 40 years ago, it was interesting, but not appropriate for everybody. I discovered that careful planning of surroundings prior to “starting” was important, e.g., unplug the damn phone, turn off the TV, …

      I don’t recall any great eco-awareness “boost”, as my parents had already instilled some of that in us when my sister and I were young, e.g., general responsibility, don’t throw trash out of the car window, don’t throw trash in the creek, general plant awareness (Poison Ivy vs. Virginia Creeper), gardening skills, the importance of honeybees, …

      • Similar to my experience, but I did gain an awareness boost. Firstly of the idiocies of those around me, and then more surprisingly, the larger idiocies of my own behaviour.

        I did manage to fix a few of my own idiocies, but soon stopped trying to fix them in others. That was one of my greatest idiocies!

    • The CIA spent years studying LSD as a mind control aid before they gave it to Timothy Leary and the other leaders of the “psychedelic movement.” One of the conclusions of the MK Ultra Project was that LSD inhibited the subject’s ability to distinguish right from wrong. That’s how we ended up with socio-
      paths like Charles Manson!
      As a reformed hippie, I learned long ago that the real lesson from drugs is “Don’t do them!” If you really want to get HIGH try climbing a few mountains; the scenery is amazing and if you start studying the geology you might uncover all the facts exposing the CAGW hoax! These “scientists” sound like they have been overindulging their drug habits; warm periods in geologic time are the MOST biodiverse and have much higher individual populations than periods of increased glaciation.

  8. The authors found a plant genera that profited from the last 10 million years of cooling by being better at adapting than other plants….

    And used that to conclude not only that this genera would not be more adaptable to warming as well, but that biodiversity *in general* will suffer from warming? If Carex is so adaptable that it exists in a wide variety of climates, but is dominant where it is cold and suddenly become dominant in the fossil record after sudden cooling, I would think the logical conclusion would be that most plants *don’t* like sudden cooling, allowing the more adaptable plant to suddenly dominate when cooling kills off everything else. Did the fossil record suddenly become more biodiverse in general when Carex made its “massive appearance” in regions?

    More to the point, we’ve already warmed ~1C of the supposed 1.5 (down from 2C) maximum safe limit. In this “climate crisis”, is Carex struggling all over the world — or anywhere? Is there any evidence at all that the warming we’ve *already had* has induced a decrease in biodiversity?

  9. This is the title of the paper—“A tale of worldwide success: Behind the scenes of Carex (Cyperaceae) biogeography and diversification.” https://doi.org/10.1111/jse.12549

    This is the title of the [AAAS] Eureka Alert Link–“Global warming could have a negative impact on biodiversity generation processes.”

    Cold has been well known for many, many decades to influence speciation, the word negative a fairly newly discovered faddish usage about the current world [in certain “scientific organizations”]. Speaking of success maybe Eureka Alert [Eureka!!!!] should worry about reducing CO2 to prevent overabundance of seagrasses.
    https://www.int-res.com/articles/feature/m566p001.pdf
    “These results reinforce the emerging paradigm that seagrasses are likely to benefit significantly from a high-CO2world.”

  10. 1. No human understands what generates biodiversity in the first place.
    2. “The current context of climate crisis and mass extinction of species” exists solely in the imagination.

    • I disagree with #2. The climate crisis exists for real in the realms of politics and grant-funded “research”. It would be harmless if it only existed in the imagination but sadly that isn’t the case.

  11. The extremely warm but brief PETM interval 55 million years ago was a period of astonishing diversification. For example most existing mammalian orders first appear during the PETM.

    Sedges (and grasses) have naturally thrived during the Neogene and Pleistocene as the cooling climate has gradually eliminated forests and replaced them with savannah/steppe/tundra. There is even a theory that it is this increase of grasses that has caused the cooling:

    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228769607_Cenozoic_Expansion_of_Grasslands_and_Climatic_Cooling

  12. Another paid by government research that claims wildlife, in this case ‘Carus’ species, should have suffered early in this interglacial…

    Foolish at every level.

  13. Hmmm, I must be missing something. Biodiversity is greatest in the warmer parts of the earth, least in the cool regions. So warming will decrease biodiversity? There’s a disconnect here somewhere……

  14. Don’t knock the paper without reading it, it is open access. See my comment above.
    https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/jse.12549
    Did not chase down where the Eureka Alert got the hysteria in the paper but this is the last sentence of the abstract. “We detected 13 notable diversification rate shifts during the last 10 My, including remarkable radiations in North America and New Zealand, which occurred concurrently with the late Neogene global cooling, which suggests that diversification involved the colonization of new areas and expansion into novel areas of niche space.” AAAS among others is doing a great disservice to the scientific process which is not totally corrupt. I suspect based on a rapid scan that this is a reasonable botanical work.

    • AAAS
      Alarmist Association for the Abolition of Science

      Why do they bother? We already know that global warming and climate change are bad for EVERYTHING. Anyone who hasn’t learned that by now must be a denializationist and is therefore beyond redemption and beneath contempt.

      • Smart Rock, not only are global warming and climate change bad for everything, it’s twice as bad as we thought earlier! That and everywhere is getting bad twice as fast as everywhere else. I read it in the Grauniad so it must be twue! I guess I’ll go back to bed and hide under the covers!

    • Who’d think “that diversification involves the colonization of new areas and expansion into novel areas of niche space.”

      Blessed to be learned.

  15. Looks to me like negative take on message from this work is upside-down.
    Yes, Carex species dominate in cold, nutrient-poor, species poor, high-latitude environments where the broader diversity of flora has more trouble surviving. If the climate conditions IMPROVE, we could expect a greater variety of vegetation to encroach on boreal environments, competing to the general detriment of Carex. In what way is that bad, unless all change is to be seen as bad? Look at any measure of species diversity vs latitude, and you’ll see what the real story is.

    Give the authors credit. The genuflection to AGW is a necessary addendum to any paper like this, and means little.

  16. I, too, scanned this paper and it is an interesting work. A point made is that this sedge has a higher diversity in “cold-temperate“ areas, which makes some sense as you might expect more niches in a area with a more expansive temperature regime. More niches, in general, equals more diversity and more species. However, that only includes temperature-related niches and there’s more to a niche than temperature. Remember, a niche can be described as a multi-dimensional space with many axes representing the environment in which the niche resides and the outlines of the space can be nearly infinitely irregular.

    However, let’s also remember that niches (and evolution) exist in a changing environment (Pielou) so that all niches may not be filled at any given time as the niches change with the environmental change. (We are not considering Time here, but Time is a resource that affects this change). While this paper limits itself to Carex (sorry, don’t see where I can underline or italicize) let’s expand to an ecosystem, which is what Nature does (apologize for the anthropomorphism). Nature does not “worry” about individual species but about “functional” species and developing a working ecosystem. (In my opinion, this distinction is not considered by the Endangered Species Act and is a flaw in that legislation.)

    So, while Carex diversity may be affected, may be affected by warming, would it do so if a temperature gradient remained in place? And, a decrease of sedge diversity may not mean a decrease of ecosystem diversity, as other species, most likely, will fill open niches. For instance, the equatorial rainforests are among the most diverse ecosystems on the planet and exist in a relatively narrow temperature range.

    We tend to define species by structure, physiology, DNA and such. Nothing wrong with that, it’s easy for us to do. But, Nature defines species functionally, as building blocks to fill niches for an ecosystem, looking for some stability as energy is transferred from the base of the system to the top of the pyramid.

    Just my opinion (influenced by Pielou and many others over the decades).

  17. My first thoughts were ‘yes it makes sense: in tough conditions the weaker variations quickly are eleiminated and only the strong survive’. But then I realised that that applies to all life and it doesn’t explain why it should particularly apply to Carex. Does Carex have some advantage which makes it more adaptable with natural selection doing the rest? I suspect that this is just another study attempting to attribute something to climate change.

  18. Truth. Nobody cares about Carex or frankly most of the other esoteric research being done. But these days every one cares about the impending end of the earth. Science good. Political science bad. Frankenstein

  19. This really has to be one of the dumbest claims ever.
    These pseudo-scientists have seemingly not heard of checking the historical record to see what it was like in previous hot times. Or even just comparing the current (Ant-)Arctic with Equatorial diversity.
    Indeed, shouldn’t we regard Carex as being complicit in the real 6th great extinction – the eradication of warmth-loving organisms and replacement by the cold-dependent Carex and others?
    Let us “save the planet” by instituting a mass eradication of Carex and its accomplices in genocide!
    Perhaps that would give the “Warmies” new employment and they could leave science to those who have an IQ greater than their shoe size.

  20. [Global warming “could” have a negative impact]
    The airplane “could” fly. All aboard!

    • It was a snowy afternoon in Anchorage, Alaska. We were getting ready to board a charter plane to fly over the Cook Inlet to our gas-fired electric plant across the way. In answer to a query, our pilot opined that we would probably make it over to the generation plant but it might be impossible to get back that evening.

      A perfect example of your “The airplane “could” fly. All aboard!” One of us management types suggested we vote on the issue of trying the flight. Without a word, I headed toward the door leading to my car in the snow covered parking lot.

      • Car may get stuck, it will certainly not plummet several thousand feet to the ground because of bad weather.(unless you are driving on a really tall mountain, then all bets are off)

  21. This is actually a rather interesting, though very dense and technical paper, probably more or less incomprehensible to anyone who hasn’t studied taxonomy and biogeography.

    And there is not a hint of alarmism anywhere in it. Not a single mention of CAGW or any negative effects of it. That is 100% pure invention by You-reek-alert and whoever wrote the press release. They probably felt safe that nobody would be bothered to read the actual paper, which is a pretty safe bet in this particular case (did anyone else on WUWT read it by the way?)

    • So you are saying this paper does not conclude that increased plant food(co2) and favorable conditions(increased water and temps) are bad for plants? Last I checked increases in these two factors expand plant diversity and increase plant productivity(such as oxygen production, food production) so that is a good thing! Glad they agree with reality.

  22. Look, these plants adapted to the cold over a long period of time. So if it’s no longer cold, they might not be able to adapt to the cold.

    See how stupid that is? I used to revere scientists. The closer I get, the more I realize many of them are charlatans.

  23. ‘not only is climate warming causing the extinction of species,..’

    Proof? Name some? Oh, yes, just another lie.

  24. And here I thought that the hot steamy jungles were the most biodiverse regions of the planet. National Geographic, I blame you.

  25. “The study is the first to deal with global distribution patterns and diversification of a megadiverse genus of plants and suggests that not only is climate warming causing the extinction of species, but also could negatively affect the processes that generate them,”
    –> “The study is the first to deal with global distribution patterns and diversification of a megadiverse genus of spinners and suggests that not only is climate warming fantasia aberration causing the lasting brain damage on scholars, but also could negatively affect the processes required for paying them and toilsome dragging them through,”

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