Insects victims of climate change: study

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London, May 7 (UNI) Tropical insects rather than polar bears could be among the first species to become extinct as a result of global warming, study claimed.

Insects in the tropics are already living at the limit of their temperature range and any further increases could quickly kill them off with huge repercussions for tropical habitats, which rely on insects for everything from pollination to waste disposal.

Scientists have found that a rise in average temperatures in the tropics of just 1 degree Celsius or 2 degree Celsius could be enough to exert a significant and harmful effect on the survival of a wide variety of insects.

Climate scientists predict that the polar regions will experience the greatest increases in average temperatures this century as a result of climate change, but the latest study suggests that even the smaller predicted change in the tropics could have a far more serious impact on local wildlife.

"Many tropical species can only tolerate a narrow range of temperatures because the climate they experience is pretty constant throughout the year," said Curtis Deutsch, assistant professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles, who co-authored the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The scientists also warned that there will be other effects of global warming that could also have a serious impact on tropical regions, particularly on food crops.

"Our research focused only on the impact of changes in temperature, but warming also will alter rainfall patterns," said Dr Deutsch.

"These changes could be more important for many tropical organisms, such as plants, but they are harder to predict because hydrological cycle changes are not as well understood." UNI XC NC HT1408

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