From: Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM, More from this Affiliate
Published March 26, 2012 11:59 AM

Cloud forests may be particularly vulnerable to climate change

Mexico could lose nearly 70 percent of its cloud forests due to climate change by 2080, according to new research published in Nature Climate Change, that has implications for cloud forests worldwide. "Given the narrow environmental tolerance of cloud forests, the fear is that human-induced climate change could constitute an even greater peril [than deforestation] in the near future," says lead author Rocio Ponce-Reyes of the ARC Center of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED) and The University of Queensland in a press release. Cloud forests are usually defined as tropical forests growing at an altitude of more than 6,600-10,000 feet (2,500-3,000 meters) in elevation, where the forest receives most of its moisture from fog. Unique ecosystems, cloud forests harbor many species found no-where else including a wide variety of orchids, hummingbirds, and amphibians.


Researchers found that rising temperatures and climatic changes could devastate 11,685 square kilometers of Mexico cloud forest, equaling 69 percent of the whole biome at present. However the news gets even worse: most of Mexico's cloud forest (88 percent) remains unprotected and vulnerable to deforestation and degradation. If the unprotected forests are cleared and climate change impacts the rest as predicted, Mexico may lose 99 percent of its cloud forest and lose most of its species.

The researchers write that "immediate action" is needed to protect cloud forests that appear most resilient to climate change impacts.

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