Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Global Warming Shrinking Plant Leaves


Warming temperatures are turning a native Australian shrub into a mini version of itself, revealing the effect climate change is already having on the globe.

Researchers from the University of Adelaide examined specimens of narrow-leaf hopbush (Dodonaea viscosa, subspecies angustissima), a woody shrub with papery red seed capsules that were used by early Australian colonists to brew beer. They found that between the 1880s and the present, leaves have narrowed by an average of 0.08 inches (2 millimeters).

"Climate change is often discussed in terms of future impacts, but changes in temperature over recent decades have already been ecologically significant," study researcher Greg Guerin, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Adelaide, said in a statement. "Climate change is driving adaptive shifts within plant species and leaf shape has demonstrated adaptive significance in relation to climate."

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