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Higher carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere linked to more flowers blooming in tropical forests

The increasing levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) brought about by climate change resulted in an increase in flower production in remote tropical forests across of the globe, according to a study published in the journal Global Change Biology.

A team of researchers at Florida State University examined plant materials obtained from tropical forests of Panama’s Barro Colorado Island to investigate the effects of rising CO2 levels on plant life. The research team also took into account various environmental factors — such as temperature, rainfall, and light — that may impact the annual flowering activity and flowering duration of plant species found in the forest. The experts found that increased CO2 levels had the most pronounced effect on the plants’ flowering activities.

“It’s really remarkable. Over the past several decades, we’ve seen temperatures warming and carbon dioxide increasing, and our study found that this tropical forest has responded to that increase by producing more flowers. Tropical forests have evolved in generally stable climates. So while they may not be warming as much as some higher-latitude ecosystems, these tropical species appear to be much more sensitive than we might have expected,” lead researcher Stephanie Pau told Science Daily online.

According to the research team, the elevated CO2 levels in the atmosphere spurred the island’s flora to allocate more energy in producing flowers. The experts noted that certain plant species continue to expand their reproductive activities in response to the rising carbon dioxide concentrations. However, some plant species such as canopy trees and lianas exhibited more stabilized activities. The experts added that forests may continue experiencing new ecological shifts as a result of higher CO2 levels in the atmosphere.

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