A trio of Stony Brook researchers has published a study showing the effects of human-induced climate change on the extinction of various plant and animal species, the university announced this week.
The study, which examined 136 case studies and which was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, was led by John J. Wiens, an associate professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution, and PhD students Abigail E. Cahill and Matthew E. Aiello-Lammens.
According to the authors, the extinction of various plant and animal species due to human-related climate change is already rampant, but yet little is known about the specific causes of those extinctions.
While some may expect that climate change alone might cause extinction because of rising temperatures making it too hot for various species to survive, Wiens said in a statement that climate change is rarely the direct cause of extinction – rather, climate change more frequently causes "local extinctions" of some species that influence other species' longevity.
"These shifting interactions may make even small climatic changes dangerous for the survival of plant and animal species," he said. "So, for example, many animals may starve to death because of climate change long before the climate gets hot enough for them to die from overheating."