WASHINGTON (AFP) — Global warming has caused numerous European plant species to migrate to higher elevations over the decades, according to new research published Thursday.
The research appears in the June 27 edition of the journal Science, and has potentially "important ecological and evolutionary consequences," the study's authors wrote.
A team of international scientists working in mountainous regions of Western Europe compared the natural elevation range of 171 forest plant species between 1905 and 1985, and again between 1986 and 2005.
"Along the entire elevation range, 0 to 2,600 meters (8,500 feet) above sea level ... we show that climate warming has resulted in a significant upward shift in species optimum elevation averaging 29 meters (95 feet) per decade," the researchers wrote.
The lead author of the study was Jonathan Lenoir of AgroParisTech in Nancy, France.
The report, compiled with data from the French National Climatic Network, was conducted in six mountainous regions throughout Europe.
They include the Northern Pyrenees, the Massif Central, the Western Jura, the Vosges, the Corsican range and the alpine regions, where average temperature increases have approached one degree Celsius since the start of the 1980s, researchers said.