`Plant leaves shrinking because of global warming`

Rising temperatures have turned a native Australian shrub into a mini version of itself, showing the effect of climate change is already having on the globe, scientists have found.

Updated: Jul 08, 2012, 14:13 PM IST

Washington: Rising temperatures have turned a native Australian shrub into a mini version of itself, showing the effect of climate change is already having on the globe, scientists have found.
Researchers from the University of Adelaide examined specimens of narrow-leaf hopbush (Dodonaea viscosa, subspecies angustissima), a woody shrub with papery red seed capsules that were used by early Australian colonists to brew beer.

They found that between the 1880s and the present, leaves have narrowed by an average of 0.08 inches (2 millimeters).

"Climate change is often discussed in terms of future impacts, but changes in temperature over recent decades have already been ecologically significant," study researcher Greg Guerin, was quoted as saying by LiveScience.

"Climate change is driving adaptive shifts within plant species and leaf shape has demonstrated adaptive significance in relation to climate," Guerin said.

Plants from warmer latitudes typically have narrower leaves, Guerin said. Climate change also shrinks animal life, research has shown.

In the Flinders Ranges of South Australia, rainfall has stayed fairly constant while maximum temperatures have increased by 1.2 degrees Celsius since 1950. Guerin and his colleagues looked at hopbush specimens dating back as far as the 1880s.

"Our results indicate that leaf width is closely linked to maximum temperatures," Guerin said.

Some Australian species are more likely to adapt to climate change than others, the researchers said.

"It`s important to understand how plants cope with the changing climate, because species that are more adaptive to change may be good candidates for environmental restoration efforts," Guerin said.

The results were detailed in the in the journal Biology Letters.

Another Indian trader, Muhammad Danish Qureshi who was held under illegal detention by a Chinese businesswoman was released from detention and flown home.

Deepak and Shaym were asked to pay a million RMB (about USD 1.5 million) by a local court in its recent judgement dampening any chances of their return to home. The two faced a travel ban.

Providing for the first time the Chinese perspective of the dispute, the local trader Wen Hui Song told Indian journalists here that he was a rich businessman until last year, trading in artificial diamonds and now turned a pauper due to RMB 12 million owed by Agrawal and Raheja to him.

Asked whether he kidnapped the two Indian traders, Song, who was arrested along with five others said he is being prosecuted for illegal detention of the two. "I am being prosecuted. I am a defendant. The case under investigation," he said.

He along with five other faced charges of illegal detention but was not willing to give up his demand for repayment of all dues.

He along with 16 other traders were involved in supplying artificial diamonds to both the Indians. Wen refuted their claim that they were employees of a company called Euro Global headed by a national from Yemen.

"I do not know anyone other than the two," he said, adding that Deepak approached him through Alibaba online purchase outlet.

They later came to Yiwu in June last year and had a good business transaction for about one million RMB.

They asked for credit after a establishing good rapport and obtained supplies through credit. As debts mounted they tried to flee, he said adding that he got tip off about their plans and intercepted them in December last.

Reacting to Song`s claims, Deepak told PTI that he and Agrawal were part of Euro Global and trouble started for them after their owner Maher Saud Hussain Bazara, who procured the items from Song and sold to traders in Pakistan and Dubai. But they paid about nine lakh RMB to Song.

Caught in the claims and counter claims Indian diplomats have provided consular services to them besides providing financial assistance. External Affairs Minister, S M Krishna had also taken up the issue with his Chinese counterpart few times.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry promised expeditious end to the episode but the case seems to hit a dead after the judgment asking the two to pay one million RMB.

An Indian Embassy spokesman in Beijing said consular services would continue to be provided to the two, while they have to make arrangements to meet their expenditure.

Deepak, who is based in Dubai before coming here said both of them are now trying to write a mercy letter to Chinese leaders seeking their help to return home.