Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Daily Kos/BBC: Ancient Trees Die in Africa: Climate Change Named as Suspect in Deaths



Ancient Trees Die in Africa: Climate Change Named as Suspect in Deaths.
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2018/06/12 · 00:12
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Via the BBC:

    International scientists have discovered that most of the oldest and largest African baobab trees have died over the past 12 years.

    They suspect the demise may be linked to climate change, although they have no direct evidence of this.

    The tree can grow to an enormous size, and may live hundreds if not thousands of years.

    The researchers, from universities in South Africa, Romania and the US, say the loss of the trees is "an event of an unprecedented magnitude".

The BBC article is based on a report in Nature Plants, unfortunately behind a paywall.

The exact cause of death is yet to be determined, but climate change is cited as a suspect; the trees are found in a region with harsh climate under normal conditions. Climate change may have stressed them beyond their limits. Disease does not seem to be implicated. The age and size of the trees may have been a contributing factor. If younger/smaller specimens have more resilience, the species may not be in trouble yet, but that remains to be seen.

Baobabs are a distinctive species in the regions where they are found; the ones discussed in the article were in Zimbabwe, Namibia, South Africa, Botswana and Zambia.

The insidious thing about climate change is that it affects everything, either directly or indirectly. Species that depend on other species that are vulnerable to climate change can end up in trouble even if they themselves are less vulnerable. The baobab trees are important nesting sites for birds according to the BBC article, as well as supporting other wildlife.

The baobab trees are getting attention because of their age and size — so what else is happening that we haven’t yet noticed?
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