Climate Change In Grasslands

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It is commonly expected that global climate change has and will continue to cause major changes to global ecosystems. Douglas Johnson of the Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Centre has provided research that indicates, “huge shifts in the distribution of many grassland bird species” (Manitoba Eco-Network, 2015). It is predicted that an increase in the frequency and severity of droughts will result in forests and wetlands being replaced by an increase in grasslands. The plants and animals that populate grasslands are adapted to the amount of rainfall and the seasonal dry periods. However, higher temperatures, less rain and soil moisture with increased rates of evaporation will result in mortality to plant species and a migration of animal …show more content…
Rainfall in grassland biomes can vary from 250mm to 800mm per year (LeFebre, 2016). As a result, grasslands tend to be located away from major water sources and experience dry seasons or in some cases many years of drought (LeFebre, 2016). Grasses and plants typical to grasslands tend to be highly productive in terms of photosynthesis with wide spread root systems that benefit from highly productive soil systems. (LeFebre, 2016). This makes grasslands ideal for development into farmland and subject to expansion due to climate change. As Hansen et al. (2001) explains “climate and land use are two prongs of human-induced global change” (765). However, the growth and productivity of grasslands can vary depending on the “frequency and timing of rainfall,” interactions between soil and water, and the “atmospheric demand and the physiology of individual plant species” (Hufkens et al., 2016, 1). Negative impacts to grasslands will likely make the area less desirable for agriculture as well. The spread of grasslands into woodland and wetland biomes will likely result in the spread of agriculture into these biomes as former grasslands are transformed into a more arid, desert …show more content…
(2001), all ecological systems require that “variations in climate, disturbance, and other ecological processes” to maintain some species and communities (777). However, changes in climate have accelerated changes in biodiversity and the rate of these changes will increase in the near future (Hansen et al., 2001, 777). Land use and, to a lesser extent, climate have changed substantially over the past century, causing important shifts in the abundance and distribution of species, communities, and biomes. Hansen et al. (2001) note that “distributions of some species, communities, and biomes are likely to expand while others contract, and entirely new communities of species may form” (777). Changes in land-use and climate will outpace the adaptability of species resulting in “shifts in species ranges, extinctions, and disequilibrum ecosystem dynamics” (Hansen et al., 2001, 777). The various species of plants and animals that make up a habitat respond to climate changes in different ways. The composition of a habitat may change in structure and function (Inkley, 2013, 8). Mortality, migration, invasion, and adaptation lead to significant changes in ecological

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