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Plants and climate change
Botanic Gardens Conservation
What is climate change?
 Changes in weather
patterns caused by
increases in the major
greenhouse gases
(especially CO2).
 Changes include:
– Rising temperatures
– Rainfall disruption
– More frequent and
stronger storms
Why are plants linked to climate
Plants remove CO2 from the air
during photosynthesis and store it
in their stems, leaves and roots
"Root Systems of Prairie Plants" by Heidi Natura ©1995, Conservation Research Institute
Tropical forests store vast amounts
of carbon
Plants stabilise soils which store
even more carbon!
Climate change threatens plants
 In order to grow, plants need:
– Water
– Carbon dioxide
– Sunlight
– Nutrients
– The right temperature
 All these will change with
climate change
In response to climate change,
plants can:
 Move – to where the
climate is suitable
 Adapt – to the
new climate
 Become extinct
Barriers to plant movement
Barriers to migration (from Abraham J. Miller-Rushing and Richard B. Primack, Plant Talk 2004
What about mountain and island
Joseph Steufer
Where can they go to find
suitable conditions as the Earth warms?
 Changing time of
growing or flowering
 Becoming dormant
 Growing faster or
Assisted adaptation
 Not all species will adapt to climate
change at the same rate
 Plants that flower too early may ‘miss’ their
 Migrating birds might not have a food
supply where they expect it
Foodchain disruption
Become extinct
Conserve Plants
 HOW?