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Warming climate could spell the end for species of wildflower in Colorado, CU study finds

Posted at 12:37 PM, Feb 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-23 14:45:53-05

BOULDER, Colo. — The mountains of Colorado could become a little less colorful if warmer, drier conditions persist. 

New research led by CU-Boulder scientists paint a bleak future for the Northern rock jasmine, a common Colorado wildflower found at elevations ranging from around 6,000 feet to over 14,000.

The study, published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances, revealed that warming caused significant declines and even near extinction in the plant’s population.

“We had thought that the plant’s evolutionary adaptations might save it, or that natural seed dispersal might help it survive,” said Anne Marie Panetta, lead author of the study. “But the fact that we’ve seen extinction happen regardless bodes poorly.”

Conducted at a field site located in Gunnison, the 25-year study mimicked temperature increases projected in the next 50 to 100 years. 

The experiment created the world’s longest-running active-heating climate change experiment, according to CU-Boulder release.