Ecological Versus Climatic Thresholds

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Science  24 Dec 2004:
Vol. 306, Issue 5705, pp. 2197-2198
DOI: 10.1126/science.1107481

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How will the terrestrial vegetation respond to future climate change? In his Perspective, Maslin argues that studies of past climates can help to answer this question. He highlights the report by Jennerjahn et al., who show that ecological or vegetation responses to climatic changes may be delayed if an ecological threshold has to be crossed. In another study, Tzedakis et al. show that once such a threshold is crossed, the vegetation may not necessarily recover with a return to the original climatic conditions. Thus, both the time scale and the reversibility of future ecological changes as a result of global warming remain unclear.