Global warming's effects on plants and animals

Written by pamela grundy
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Global warming's effects on plants and animals
Global warming is speeding up animal extinction rates. (bestdesigns/iStock/Getty Images)

Global warming impacts plants and animals by destroying habitats, eliminating food sources, changing bloom times and reproductive cycles, confusing birds' migration patterns, and causing the extinction of various species.

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Geography

Global warming has increased average temperatures one degree over the past 100 years, but this increase is happening faster in some areas. The southern edges of animal and plant habitats are shrinking faster than the northern ones.

Ecosystem collapse

Sometimes the extinction of a single species causes the extinction of all the species that depend on it for food. This chain reaction is called "ecosystem collapse."

Early spring

Spring-time events such as the bloom time of flowers, egg laying and mammals waking from hibernation take place, on average, 5.1 days earlier per decade.

Plants and birds

Bird species that migrate north and south every year mark their migrations by the flowering times of plants whose seeds they eat. A change of only a few days in average bloom times can cause birds and insects to become confused and stop pollinating those plants, causing the plants to die out.

Expert insight

Changing even one of element in an interconnected ecosystem can damage all parts of the system, making the effects of even slight global warming on plants and animals very severe.

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