EFFECT OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON FLORA AND FAUNA OF YALA AND BUNDALA NATIONAL PARKS IN SOUTHERN SRI LANKA

S.P. SAMARAKOON

Abstract


An attempt was made in 2003 to identify the climate variability and its effects on flora and fauna in Hambantota.  The objectives of the study were (1) to extract the patterns of climate variability, (2) to construct a “Climate Trend Diagram (CTD)” and (3) to study the effect of climate change on flora and fauna.

Rainfall and temperature data (1869 - 2002) were collected from Colombo Meteorological Department and analyzed using Statistical Packages to find the cycles of relatively similar patterns and trend lines for each cycle. Information on flora and fauna were collected from desk-top studies, and field visits.

The mean annual rainfall and temperature at Hambantota were 1022.4 mm, and 27.10C respectively. Generally, the rainfall was declining and temperature was increasing since 1970s.

November showed the highest rainfall of 183.1 mm and the driest months were February, July, and August. The actual rainfall and the mean temperature showed patterns of climatic cycles of 16- years and 6-years respectively. Since 1970s, the CTD showed that the mean annual temperature has been increasing and the rainfall decreasing.

Presumably, the prolonged drought has decreased ground water and increased scrub species. Plants and animals, which have relatively higher demand for water, were the most threatened species. The long-term effects of climate change were reflected by forest die-back, and spread of woody weeds in Bundala and Yala National Parks.


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