July 27, 2021
Our environment is changing rapidly as a consequence of the climate crisis, and the loss of biodiversity is becoming more of a problem. Conservationist need to accurately identifying plants and animals in order to have the best possible chance to protect them. They also need to understand the environment they live in, and the conditions they can withstand. A plant that is able to survive in hot and dry climates, and needs fire to germinate for example may have a better chance of surviving in our warming climate than one that requires sub zero temperatures for part of the year.
There are many plant species that have not yet been identified or classified, in particular those species living in the tropics. Researchers from the University of Oxford, University of Exeter and the Royal Botanic Gardens have been studying plant life in the Bolivian Andes in order to catalogue any new species. They were able to identify five new species of plants with the help of local collaborators. The plants all belong in the Jacquemontia genus, which are a type of flowering vine sometimes called ‘clustervine’. Some of the newly identified species have only been discovered in one location at this stage.
Plants that grow in only one area are particularly susceptible to habitat destruction and invasive pests, so the researchers are keen to discover if the new species grow in numerous places. As well as learning more about the new species, the researchers also wish to learn more about the habitats where they live, such as rocky outcrops which can be harsh environments for plants to survive in. Learning more about how these new species survive in harsh environments will allow the researchers to discover more about how they can adapt in the face of changes to our climate.
Source: Eureka Alert
Learn more: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-07/uoe-sif072321.php