WASHINGTON - Faced with global warming, plants are heading for the hills. A study of 171 forest species in Western Europe shows that most of them are shifting their favored locations to higher, cooler spots.
For the first time, research can show the "fingerprints of climate change" in the distribution of plants by altitude, and not only in sensitive ecosystems, said Jonathan Lenoir of AgroParisTech in Nancy, France.
His team found "a significant upward shift of species optimum elevation, the altitude where species are the most likely to be found over their whole elevation range."
Indeed, comparing the distribution of species between 1905 and 1985 with their distribution between 1986 and 2005 showed a shift upward of 95 feet per decade, researchers led by Lenoir report in Friday's edition of the journal Science.
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