TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - University of Arizona researchers say they've proven that climate change is pushing plant species to higher elevations on a southern Arizona mountain.
The UA-led research team compared an extensive study of vegetation on Mount Lemmon outside Tucson done in 1963 to a 2011 study of the same area. The study found what researchers say is the first hard evidence that Southwestern plant species are moving to higher ground as predicted by scientists because temperatures are climbing.
UA researcher Richard Brusca says if the climate continues to warm as predicted the mixed conifer forests on the region's mountaintops and the animals that depend on them will disappear.
The new survey focused on the 27 most common plant species from 1963 and found three-quarters of them have shifted their range significantly upslope.