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Insects first to feel warming

WASHINGTON -- Tropical insects will likely be the first types of animals to suffer extinction because of rising global temperatures, U.S. researchers say.

Insects first to feel warmingGet original file (11KB)

The study, conducted by scientists from the University of Washington and Colorado State University on behalf of the National Academy of Sciences, contends that because tropical insects are already living close to the top of their heat tolerances, it will only take a relatively small amount of warming to kill them off, The Independent reported Monday.

On the other hand, the study found, species living at higher latitudes have greater tolerances to heat and cold, and because they are thriving at temperatures cooler than what they can withstand, warmer climates may actually "enhance their fitness."

"Our analyses imply that, in the absence of ameliorating factors such as migration and adaptation, the greatest extinction risks from global warming may be in the tropics, where biological diversity is also greatest," the study's authors wrote.

The research was publish in the academy's journal Proceedings.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International.