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Number of Cactus Species at Risk is Likely to Rise Due to Global Warming

Cacti are one of the world's most endangered plant species, according to the researchers, owing in large part to human activities. They were concerned about the plants' prospects as the planet warmed in this new effort.

Shivam Dwivedi
Cactus in Desert Areas
Cactus in Desert Areas

Climate change, according to a group of researchers from the United States and the United Kingdom, is likely to increase the number of cactus species at risk of extinction this century. The team compares the current ecosystems of 408 cactus species to expected changes in those ecosystems as a result of climate change in their paper published in the journal Nature Plants to predict their ability to survive.

Research Insights:

Cacti are one of the world's most endangered plant species, according to the researchers, owing in large part to human activities. They were concerned about the plants' prospects as the planet warmed in this new effort.

They also point out that because they have a reputation for being a hardy plant that can withstand hot and dry conditions, few people outside of the plant biology community are aware of their precarious situation- a warming planet would appear to favour their adaptability.

However, as they point out, most cacti have specialized niches in which they thrive, and any changes to those niches can be disastrous.

The researchers studied 408 species of cacti to learn more about their possible fate, focusing on their individual ecosystems and sensitivity to change.

They then used climate models to predict how those ecosystems would change under three different climate change scenarios.

Cacti face increased threats in all three scenarios, according to the researchers. They discovered that even small changes in temperature can lead to decreases in territorial occupation.

They also discovered that approximately 60% of the species they studied are likely to experience declines this century, with approximately 40% of those experiencing "significant declines."

They only found one, the Brazilian Xique-Xique, which is likely to expand its range and thus its numbers. They also pointed out that the region most at risk of losing cacti species are those with the most to lose- those with the most to lose. Florida, as well as parts of Brazil and Mexico, have the greatest number of species and diversity.

(Source: Phys.org)

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