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There is now ample evidence that recent climatic changes have affected a broad range of organisms with diverse geographical distributions.

Gian-Reto Walther et al present an integrated synopsis of this data, focusing on the consequences of the
last 30 years of warming. They look particularly at seasonal activities of animals and plants, the range and distribution of species, the composition and dynamics of communities.

The authors conclude that although we are only at an early stage in the projected trends of global warming, ecological responses are already clearly visible. At the same time, the complexity of ecological interactions makes it difficult to extrapolate to the community or ecosystem level.

Nevertheless, they warn that continued warming may have profound ecological and socio-economic consequences.

Reference:Nature 416, 389 (2002)

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