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Deforested areas bleed heat to nearby forests, drive local extinctions

17 / 06 / 2019, Mongabaycom News

Areas cleared of forests bleed heat to neighboring forests, and this fuels increases in temperatures there, new research has found. Average temperatures in forests around the world are already rising because of climate change; this leaked heat exacerbates the problem and accelerates local extinctions of forest-dwelling species. “The warming is happening from global climate change but deforestation is generating additional warming, which is making climate change’s impact even worse in the tropics for biodiversity and the forest itself,” said Barry Sinervo, an ecologist and evolutionary biologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a co-author of the recent paper in PLOS ONE that described the phenomenon. The new research was prompted by findings from an earlier paper by Sinervo and colleagues. That 2010 paper analyzed patterns of local extinctions among lizard populations between 1975 and 2009 and examined the link to climate change. It predicted that almost 40 percent of lizard populations around the globe were at risk of local extinction by 2080. About 20 percent of species were at risk of being wiped out altogether. What struck Sinervo was the unusually high rate of extinction in Madagascar, one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. “I was intrigued why Madagascar had a much higher observed extinction rate than any other [country] and I saw that Madagascar had warmed faster than mainland Africa,” Sinervo told Mongabay. In Madagascar, two forest reserves analyzed in the 2010 paper reported an increase in maximum temperatures of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit)…

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