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ADAPTABILITY OF INVASIVE PLANTS TO CLIMATE CHANGE

Published in AgroLife Scientific Journal, Volume 11, Number 2
Written by Sara GONZÁLEZ-ORENGA, Monica BOSCAIU, Mercedes VERDEGUER, Adela M. SÁNCHEZ-MOREIRAS, Luís GONZÁLEZ, Oscar VICENTE

Climate change represents one of the greatest environmental challenges of the 21st century, accentuated by deforestation and the degradation of habitats. Changes in vital aspects such as temperature, the amount and distribution of rainfall or the frequency of extreme meteorological phenomena will probably negatively affect ecosystems. The possibilities of invasion will predictably increase, being endemic species especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Invasive species are extremely adaptable to climate variability, as evidenced by their current large latitudinal ranges. Generally, invasive plants also have rapid dispersal characteristics, allowing them to vary their ranges in response to changing climatic conditions rapidly. As a result, these species could become more dominant in many areas under changing climatic conditions. In many situations, the environmental stress generated by climate change and invasive plants are synergistic: invasive species can exacerbate the impacts of climate change on ecosystems, and in the same way, climate change can allow new invasions.

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