When climate change kills off the Western Cape’s indigenous fynbos species, what will fill its place? asks Jasper Slingsby, a biodiversity scientist at the South African Environmental Observation Network. "To borrow from the physicists, ‘nature abhors a vacuum’ — all indications are that the winners from climate change in the Cape are invasive species like the pines, eucalypts and wattles," he says. "These invasive alien species seriously alter landscape-level processes, using more water than the indigenous vegetation and greatly upping the game in terms of scale and impact of fires," Slingsby says. "And it’s not like we have a lot of water to spare." Slingsby and colleagues’ recent academic paper in the prestigious journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found some of the first empirical evidence that climate change was already hurting one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots. The Cape Floristic Region is the smallest of the globe’s six floral biomes, with a very hi...

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