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[ New Vineyards Could Create Conservation Challenges ]

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Could wine lovers soon be sipping Montana merlots or Beaujolais clones grown on the shores of theBaltic (map)?

Changing climate may well redraw the familiar map of world wine production, making it harder to grow grapes in some traditional regions while opening up new frontiers for vineyards. But satisfying our thirst for wine in a warmer world could take a toll on biodiversity, a new study suggests, if vineyard changes aren’t managed carefully.

Lee Hannah, a climate change ecologist with Conservation International, and his colleagues modeled the impacts of changing climate on winemaking, an art that’s fine-tuned to local climate conditions, in a study published this week in the journalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Today’s top wine-producing regions fromChile to Tuscany could see their suitable growing area reduced by as much as 20 to 70 percent by the year 2050, the study suggests.

That means some growers will likely adjust by planting new vines in previously undisturbed ecosystems at higher latitudes or higher elevations—displacing the plant and animal species currently residing there.

“This can lead to serious impacts on wildlife habitat as new areas become suitable for wine production and open up to planting,” Hannah said.

Read the full story on National Geographic.

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