Changing Climate in Hawaii Affects Plants
Hawaii is home to a truly unique group of native plants that evolved from a few ancestral species to over 1,000 plant species. Due to habitat destruction and the competition from non-native species, many of these plants are threatened or endangered. Climate change presents a new threat. As rainfall and vegetation patterns change across the islands, aggressive invasive plants often have a competitive advantage over native plants. For example, when a landscape becomes drier it becomes more susceptible to fires. Once a fire has ravaged an area, fire tolerant invasive grasses like fountain grass moves in and dominates an area that might otherwise be covered by native species.
Another way in which native plants suffer from climate change involves elevation and mauka (mountain) forests. Most invasive plant species are well adapted to warmer, lower elevations. Through the years, many native plants have conversely maintained cooler mountain strongholds. Mauka temperatures in Hawaii are increasing at a rate of about 0.5°F every decade. The aggressive plant invaders will find it easier to move upslope into native habitats as a result.
This Week’s MYTH Buster: “I am just one person. I can’t make a difference.”
This couldn’t be further from the truth. The best way to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels is one person, one family, and one community at a time. Every small effort from each individual adds up to make a real difference for the future of our world.
I Will Make a Difference: by carpooling more often.
More on the National Park Service and climate change: http://www.nps.gov/subjects/climatechange/index.htm