Washington, August 14 : A new study by scientists has indicated that one in five of Germany's plant species could lose parts of its current range, all due to threatening climate change.
The study has been carried out by scientists at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in Germany, and the French Laboratoire d'Ecologie Alpine.
Even moderate climate change and limited land use changes could have an adverse impact on flora, the researchers said.
Sven Pompe and his colleagues from UFZ evaluated the potential impact of climate change on the distribution of 845 European plant species, 550 of which are currently found in Germany.
The research team, which included Franz Badeck from PIK, used climate and land use scenarios up to 2080 based on possible temperature increases of 2.2, 2.9 or 3.8 degrees Celsius.
The impacts of climate change will result in local losses of flora.
The reduction in the ranges of plants is a general trend, although some central and southern European species move in which were not previously recorded in Germany.
The impacts will vary locally, with the greatest reduction in species richness likely to take place in north-eastern and south-western Germany.
The effects in the simulations become greater as the temperature increases. With moderate warming of about 2.2 degrees Celsius, about seven percent of species will lose more than two-thirds of their current ranges.
This increases to eleven percent at a warming of 2.9 degrees Celsius and twenty percent at 3.8 degrees Celsius.
Saarland, Rhineland Palatinate and Hesse and the lowland plains of Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt and Saxony could suffer particularly high species losses.
In contrast, the researchers expect the number of species in the low mountain ranges of Baden-W¼rttemberg, Bavaria, Thuringia and Saxony to increase slightly, with some plants moving in.
However, for this to happen these species would actually have to reach these areas: climate change could take place too quickly for most plant species to adapt or migrate in line with the shifts in ranges - polewards or to higher altitudes.
"Many plant species could lose their niches in habitats such as mountains or moors," said Sven Pompe from UFZ.
Migrating species from southern Europe could not compensate for these losses in the models.
The marsh marigold (Caltha palustris), for example, is one of the losers to climate change. The changes in the environmental conditions in the scenarios will result in this species disappearing locally from the low-lying areas of Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt and Saxony.
In contrast, the common walnut (Juglans regia), originally introduced north of the Alps by the Romans, would find more areas with suitable conditions and could extend into eastern Germany.