Researchers are exploring the role plants play in helping to regulate climate change and how they will fare in times ahead.
A new research expands our views on how global changes affect and are affected by plants and offers new ideas to stimulate and advance new collaborative research.
Global change includes topics such as increasing carbon dioxide and its effect on climate, habitat fragmentation and changes in how protected and agricultural lands are used or managed, increases in alien species invasions, and increased use of resources by humans.
There is increasing concern that these changes will have rapid and irreversible impacts on our climate, our resources, our ecosystems, and ultimately on life, as we know it.
These concerns stimulated Stephen Weller (University of California, Irvine), Katharine Suding (University of California, Berkeley), and Ann Sakai (University of California, Irvine) to gather together a diverse series of work from botanists spanning disciplines from taxonomy and morphology to ecology and evolution, from traditional to multidisciplinary approaches, and from observations and experiments to modeling and reviews, to help synthesize our knowledge and stimulate new approaches to tackling these global biological change issues.
"We have been concerned about the rapid and irreversible changes associated with a rapidly increasing human population that is already over seven billion people," Weller said.
"Many people are familiar with the impact of rising temperatures and greater intensity of storms on humans, but have less understanding of the effects of these and other global changes on the foundation of our biological ecosystems-plants," he said.
Focusing on a group of organisms such as plants may help provide us with insights into how such crucial organisms have responded to climate changes in the past and how they might respond to future changes.
Moreover, since impacts occur from the cellular and molecular basis to the ecosystem and evolutionary scale, the study provides an excellent opportunity to synthesize the current knowledge of global change effects on a wide spectrum of aspects of plant biology, ecology, and evolution.
The study is published in the American Journal of Botany.