As the world gets warmer due to climate change, species may need to find cooler habitats to compensate. In some places, the normal range for a species may be able to shift to higher latitudes to deal with changing temperatures. In the tropics, however, small changes in latitude don't result in major changes in temperature -- so the only way for a species to compensate for warming temperatures may be to move to higher elevations.
Writing in the journal Science, a team of ecologists describe studies in Costa Rica looking at moths, ants, canopy-dwelling plants known as epiphytes, and shrubs related to coffee plants. The effects of climate change on theses species are hard to predict, with the potential for unusual stresses and a loss of biodiversity, especially in the tropic lowlands. Since 1975, temperatures in the tropics have warmed by more than 3/4 degrees Centigrade -- and climate models predict an additional increase of more than 3 degrees Centigrade over the next century. In this segment, we'll talk about the potential effects of warming temperatures on plants and insects in the tropics.
Produced by Charles Bergquist, Director and Contributing Producer