London: Researchers have warned that a third of all flora and fauna will become extinct if global warming continues unchecked.
Scientists said that the impact of climate change has been underestimated, and while species as a whole will survive, variations within them will die out.
The team, from the Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre in Frankfurt, said that by 2080 more than 80 percent of genetic diversity within certain species would disappear.
Dr Carsten Nowak investigated nine aquatic insect species in streams around central and northern Europe. If climate change progresses as predicted, they will be pushed back to a few small areas in Scandinavia and the Alps, a computer model suggested.
A rise of two degrees would see at least one species wiped out, and a rise of four degrees at least two. But because of the extinction of local populations, genetic diversity would be much more adversely affected, with as many as 84 per cent of genetic variants dying out by 2080.
Even in the most optimistic scenario only two thirds of these variants would survive.
“Our models of future distribution show that the ‘species’ as such will usually survive,” the Telegraph quoted him as saying.
“However, the majority of the genetic variations, which in each case exist only in certain places, will not survive,” he added.
A loss of genetic variation also hinders a species’ ability to adapt to changing conditions, putting the species as a whole in more long-term danger.