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Climate Change Impacts: Vegetation

  1. Martin T Sykes

Published Online: 15 SEP 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0021227



How to Cite

Sykes, M. T. 2009. Climate Change Impacts: Vegetation. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. Lund University, Sölvegatan 12, Lund, Sweden

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 SEP 2009


Climate, more than any other factor, controls the broad-scale distributions of plant species and vegetation. Rapid climate change over the next century is likely to lead to major changes in the distribution of plants and thus in biomes and habitats. This will affect many other nonplant species as their ecology is intimately linked not only to climate but also to the habitat availability. How plants have already responded to climate change, concentrating on their phenology, the timing of events in their annual cycle such as leaf out or flowering and shifts in species ranges are summarized. How plants have responded in the past to changing climates particularly since the end of the last ice age is also discussed. Simulation modelling is a tool that is being used to forecast vegetation change and some of the techniques and forecasts for the future from modelling experiments are also described.


  • climate change;
  • phenology;
  • range shifts;
  • productivity;
  • past changes