Climate change and habitat destruction remain at the forefront of the scientific community’s hive mind, and rarely do they go unmentioned among botanists. While our own Dr. Scott Mori tackles the topic of their effects on New World tropical rain forests, it’s not just the well-known environments that are being affected.

Even on relatively desolate volcanic slopes, as with the habitat of the Haleakalā silversword, these catalytic shifts are pushing species to the edge. —MN


Climate Change Threatens Spectacular Hawaiian Plant

by Becky Oskin

One of Hawaii’s iconic plants is again at risk.

The striking and rare Haleakalā silversword, found only on the high volcanic slopes of Maui, is on the decline, scientists report today (Jan. 15) in the journal Global Change Biology. 

First, the plant was nearly killed off by cows and collectors starting in the 1880s, then conservationists made it a success story after the 1930s. Now climate change is bringing about a new collapse.

The culprit is shifting weather patterns, which have made the plant’s environment too dry and warm for new seedlings to survive. Older plants are dying, too, said study co-author Paul Krushelnycky, a biologist at the University of Hawaii, Manoa…

(read more: Live Science)             

(photos: L -  Forest & Kim Starr via BioLib.cz; B - Paul Krushelnycky, Univ. of Hawaii at Manoa)