This collection of plants native to the Florida Keys represents an entire habitat that is endangered. The Keys are an island chain that extends over 100 miles southwest from the southern tip of Florida. Development has long threatened this fragile ecosystem, but climate change poses an even greater threat.
Most of the land in the Keys is at an elevation of three feet above sea level or less. Scientists project that by 2060, the ocean will rise between one and three feet in this area. Even at the lower estimate, high tides and storm surges would flood nearly all of the land in the Keys, putting most local plant life underwater.
Part of the process for evaluating a species’ conservation status is determining what challenges it faces in the wild. In this case, the species we have on display may not all be rare themselves, but this unique mix of plants native to the Keys could someday be gone from the wild because of climate change.