While the iconic Haleakala silversword plant made a strong recovery from early 20th century human and animal threats, it has now entered a period of substantial climate-related decline. New research published last week warns that global warming may have severe consequences for the silversword in its native habitat, according to a press from the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
A strong association of annual population growth rates with patterns of precipitation suggests the plants are undergoing increasingly frequent and lethal water stress. Local climate data confirm trends towards warmer and drier conditions on the mountain, which the researchers warn will create a bleak outlook for the threatened silverswords if climate trends continue.
"Despite the successful efforts of the National Park Service to protect this very special plant from local disturbance from humans and introduced species, we now fear that these actions alone may be insufficient to secure this plant's future," said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. "No part of our planet is immune from the impacts of climate change."
Global warming may have severe consequences for the silversword in its native habitat atop Haleakalā.