Palm trees are somewhat iconic for tropical climates, but a new study published in the journal Scientific Reports highlights how these tropical trees seem to be moving further Northward than ever before.
Image Credit: Pixabay
The researchers aren’t entirely sure what’s causing this to happen, but it’s a safe bet that climate change could have something to do with it. As lands at higher latitudes slowly warm up, climate zones change and Northern environments become more feasible for palm tree growth.
Given what we know already, the researchers note how Northward palm tree migration could become a way of gauging how the Earth is changing.
"Palms are therefore sensitive indicators of changing climates, both in the remote geological past and in the present day," said study co-author David Greenwood from Brandon University.
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As the study points out, the average temperature of a region during its coldest month of the year plays a momentous role in whether palm trees can survive there or not. The researchers peg the limit at 36º Fahrenheit; any colder, and most palm trees couldn’t make it.
"As an example, this means that at present, Washington DC is just a little too cold (34 degrees F in January) for palms to successfully propagate in the wild, but that you can expect range expansion in the coming decades as average winter temperatures warm up," said study lead author Tammo Reichgelt.
But as you might have noticed, we said “most” because some palm trees can defy these rules. Citing the study, these parameters depend significantly on the palm tree’s evolutionary heritage. Some species are better adapted to the cold than others, and from this, we can learn more about their past and Earth’s.
It should be interesting to see what future studies have to say about Northward palm tree migration and what we’ll learn about climate change’s influence on the matter.
Source: Science Daily