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Tropical Species are Especially Vulnerable to Climate Change, According to Researchers

Changes in temperature and weather patterns pose a serious threat to the millions of animal, plant and fungi species found in the tropics. In an article published in Science, lead authors and biology Ph.D. students Timothy Perez and James Stroud explain how species found in environments such as the tropics have lower tolerances to climate change. With greater amounts of thermally sensitive species than environments found at higher latitudes, the threat of global climate change puts tropical species at a greater risk of extinction than their temperate counterparts. The article is coauthored with biology professor Kenneth Feeley. "The tropics are extremely important for society's well-being," Stroud said. "Rainforests absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide and produce oxygen, helping stabilize the world's climate. They also provide protection against floods and droughts and are a source of medicines and food. When climatic conditions change such that a species can no longer live there then it is likely to go extinct unless it is able to move to a new area where its preferred climate persists. Widespread extinctions can destabilize entire ecosystems."

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