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Climate Change Effect On Focal Species

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How does Climate Change Effect Focal Species Such as Plants and Birds.



With the change in climate patterns, several species of birds and animals have to adapt  to it. The ultimate consequence of climate change is habitat loss, altering competitive relationships, shift in climatic conditions, modifying migrational capabilities in birds and animal and shift in climatic conditions. In the past century, global warming of earth has led to ecological changes and this has consequently altered the species range and patterns of season breeding (Impact of climate change on species 2017). The purpose of this report is to compare the impact of climate change on several climate watch species of birds and flowering plants and determine their use in analyzing the effects of climate change.

Comparison of climate watch species

Some of the important climate watches species which are influenced by climate change includes the Australian magpie, Jacaranda (Jacaranda mimosifolia), Gymea Lily (Doryanthes excelsa), Illawarra Flame Tree (Brachychiton acerifolius), Masked Lapwing (Vanellus miles) and London Plane Tree (Platanus x acerifolious). The change in temperature and rainfall in different geographic regions affect the breeding behavior of magpies. A research investigating the climate related changes in migratory and reproductive patterns on Australia’s flora and fauna revealed variation in breading season of Australian magpies (News in Science (ABC Science) 2017).While in the northern hemisphere, they have started to breed earlier than usual, in the southern hemisphere they are more likely to start breeding earlier. Hence, climate fluctuation has direct impact on amount of breeding in Australian magpies (Gibbs 2007). Another climate watch species important for analyzing the climate change is the Masked Lapwing and climate watchers generally observe their diet pattern, flight and breeding behavior. Hence, scientist can find answer to the response of animals, plants and ecosystem by observing the breeding and duration of breeding activities in this bird (Group 2017).

In case of flowering plants like Jacaranda, the shift in climatic conditions results in early or late bloom of flowers in this species. The initiation and duration of the intense blooming days for Jacaranda differs according to the differential winter patterns (Butt 2015). On the other hand, another plant Gymea Lily also shows similar changes as seen in the Jacaranda. Due to the warming of global temperature worldwide, the plant starts to shoot and flower earlier than usual. Hence both Jacarand and Gymea Lily’s blooming pattern is changed by climate changes. In case of Illawarra Flame Tree, the change is seen not by warm temperature but it is triggered by rainfall. The Climate Watch data on this plant has revealed that decreased rainfall due to climate changes increased the flowering period and defoliation in the Illawara Flame Tree (Mazur et al. 2017).

The London Plane Tree is also an important indicator species for climate change in Australia. The research studies done on evaluating the impact of climate change on this species has shown that distribution of the London Plane Tree is affected by the extreme change in climate. When extreme climate is observed in any region, the London Plane Tree shifts to cooler and temperate regions of the world. As it is a temperate tree, change in temperature highly affects their budburst timing (Patrick et al. 2017). Hence, with the increase in temperature, the flowering and fruiting timing of the tree becomes earlier than usual.


Use of Climate watch species in recording effects of climate change

Several climate watch species, which are significantly affected by climate change, is highly used in predicting signs of climate change. For example, California’s Jacaranda tree blooms early when there is mild winter. Hence, researchers studying climate change can easily be alerted about the effects of drought and rising temperature by observing the blooming pattern of the Jacaranda (Yale Climate Connections 2017). Climate watch advisors also routinely observe the flowering pattern and opening of seed pods in Gymea Lily. This helps them to understand shift in climate patterns because they began to flower in new area when they get warmer temperature to thrive in places where they could do not do earlier due to cold. By gathering this information on seasonal events in flowering plants, climate watchers can easily track and understand the effect on climate change on plants and animals around the world (Group 2017). 

Limitation of citizen science project

The science project is an important element of environmental research where public directly engage in scientific discovery by observing and managing natural resources. However, some of the limitation of the citizen science project is that some of the complex research method may not be suitable for volunteers who lack training in research and monitoring protocols. Hence, there is high chance of risk to data because of the introduction of biases during the study. This kind of project lacks accuracy and data quality issues are often observed (Haklay 2013). To overcome these issues, members of the project will need to develop best practices and project design guideline to promote efficiency of the study.

Relevance of Climate Watch studies on society

Climate Watch studies have become an important element in developed society due to the drastic change in climatic patterns and its aftermath seen in the world. This form of studies helps researcher to observe flora and fauna of the earth to determine the climatic changes and its impact on natural environment. It has supported the environmental monitoring program for the whole community. By this means, community can take action before detecting the drastic effect of climatic change. It is necessary to observe the effect of climate change on plants and animals to better understanding seasons and the associated changes with it. This study is also important for community due to the differential impact of climate changes on the earth’s geological, ecological and biological systems. It is leading to global as well as humanitarian crisis (Schäfer and Schlichting 2014). Hence, by means of climate watch studies, researchers become alert of the consequences of change and take relevant steps to minimize any hazards in the society. The emergence of large-scale environmental hazards has also prompted the scientist to take this kind of response.



Butt, N., Seabrook, L., Maron, M., Law, B.S., Dawson, T.P., Syktus, J. and McAlpine, C.A., 2015. Cascading effects of climate extremes on vertebrate fauna through changes to low?latitude tree flowering and fruiting phenology. Global change biology, 21(9), pp.3267-3277.

Climate change affects birds and bees › News in Science (ABC Science) 2017. Retrieved 27 March 2017, from

Early blooming jacaranda plants are a sign of change - Yale Climate Connections., 2017. Yale Climate Connections. Retrieved 27 March 2017, from

Gibbs, H., 2007. Climatic variation and breeding in the Australian Magpie (Gymnorhina tibicen): a case study using existing data. Emu, 107(4), pp.284-293.

Group, T., 2017. Gymea Lily | ClimateWatch. Retrieved 27 March 2017, from

Group, T., 2017. Masked Lapwing | ClimateWatch. Retrieved 27 March 2017, from

Haklay, M., 2013. Citizen science and volunteered geographic information: Overview and typology of participation. In Crowdsourcing geographic knowledge (pp. 105-122). Springer Netherlands.

Impact of climate change on species., 2017. Retrieved 27 March 2017, from

Mazur, E., Lower, S., & Taylor, S., 2017. The onset of flowering and leaf shedding in the Illawarra Flame Tree is triggered by rainfall.; 21306725; 21335404

Patrick, C., Ling Elaine, L., Eley, M., & Lin, M., 2017. The London Plane Tree (Platanus x acerifolia) as a climate change indicator species in Australia., 21003953, 21137916, 21152384

Schäfer, M.S. and Schlichting, I., 2014. Media representations of climate change: A meta-analysis of the research field. Environmental Communication, 8(2), pp.142-160.


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