Predicting Future Effects on Minnesota Biodiversity

Join us for the Student Academic Conference on Tuesday, April 16 in the Comstock Memorial Union. View the presentation schedule at

By Karissa LaMont

Climate change is a divisive topic in the media, politics, and throughout college campuses. Joanna Blum and Samantha North took an in-depth look into how climate change is going to affect flora (plant life) and fauna (animal life) in Minnesota over the next five years and created a proposal showing a process for how the problem can be solved.

“We’re in the middle of the sixth biggest mass extinction in the earth’s history,” Blum said. “As a result, all the studies are saying we’re losing a lot of biodiversity in plants, fungus, bacteria, animals, all of the above.”

Blum and North looked at different climate models and studied how temperature and precipitation affect flora and fauna in Minnesota.

“The most promising method we’ve found is using models to produce other models from things we can measure easily,” Blum said. “We can always measure how much precipitation is happening, which is needed by flora. If there is not as much precipitation, flora won’t do as well, which in turn will affect fauna because they eat the plants. Our model focuses on temperature to precipitation and is linked to a model of precipitation to flora, and then to flora/fauna.”

Blum and North have taken the large-scale global phenomenon and broken it down to see how it will affect Minnesota in areas like the Boundaries Waters or lake houses. Their research has also impacted their thoughts on climate change.

“This problem isn’t just an evolutionary and ecology problem,” Blum said. “We need to figure out how it’s going to affect governments and everyday people. And to do that, we need to know the economics and politics of how we can fix this problem. Learning from our history and making different groups aware so we can work together.”

“A lot of people come to the Student Academic Conference, and you never know who’s going to be in that room listening to your presentation,” North said. “If we can get people thinking about this problem outside of our majors and apply what they learn from us into their own lives, it will be really beneficial toward making a difference.”

About Joanna

Major: Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
Year in School: Sophomore
Hometown: Champlin, Minnesota

About Samantha

Major: Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
Year in School: Sophomore
Hometown: Fargo, North Dakota