"Ecosystems Strain To Keep Pace With Climate"

"Earth's various ecosystems, with all their plants and animals, will need to shift about a quarter-mile per year on average to keep pace with global climate change, scientists said in a study released on Wednesday.

How well particular species can survive rising worldwide temperatures attributed to excess levels of heat-trapping 'greenhouse' gases emitted by human activity hinges on those species' ability to migrate or adapt in place.

The farther individual species -- from shrubs and trees to insects, birds and mammals -- need to move to stay within their preferred climate, the greater their chance of extinction.

The study suggests that scientists and governments should update habitat conservation strategies that have long emphasized drawing boundaries around environmentally sensitive areas and restricting development within those borders.

A more 'dynamic' focus should be placed on establishing wildlife corridors and pathways linking fragmented habitats, said research co-author Healy Hamilton of the California Academy of Sciences."

Steve Gorman reports for Reuters December 30, 2009.

Source: Reuters, 12/30/2009