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  • Guatemalan farmers face food insecurity due to climate change. (Photo: teleSUR)

    Guatemalan farmers face food insecurity due to climate change. (Photo: teleSUR)

Published 11 September 2014

Less habitable regions on Earth could make it harder for humans and other organisms to adapt.

Taking into account the capacity of various populations of the same species adapting to environmental changes, climate change predictions become even more pessimistic. This is the initial conclusion of an article written by researchers for the National Museum of Natural Sciences in Spain, published in its magazine Ecology letters.

Their predictions suggest that species could lose between two and three times the distributive area due to climate change, considering both variations in populations, as well as barriers imposed on dispersion of populations due to changes in geographic and human-caused changes to the environment.

The main models for predicting the effects of climate change on biodiversity are based on conserving individual species. Species are analyzed in blocks using the average of available data for each organism.

However, animal and plant species that populate our planet do not function as uniform blocks; rather, they are made up of different populations whose functional characteristics and phenotypic plasticity vary, depending on the environment they are living in.

In humans, this plasticity is what explains our skin’s ability to adjust to more sunlight or to adjust to the cold in the winter.  

However, if climate change will reduce the habitable area of Earth to a third of its present area, the question is raised by this prediction as to how this plasticity could be affected, due to the severe reduction in available populations within species.

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