Change in the shape of animal species due to climate change

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Changes have so far been seen in warm-blooded animal species, which have developed larger beaks, longer legs, and larger ears to withstand a warmer climate. It appears in a new study.

Australian ornithologist Sarah Riding of Deakin University describes these changes in a research report (Shape change: changing animal shapes in response to global warming) It was written by Riding and his colleagues Marcel Claassen, Glenn J. Tattersall, Janet L. Gardner and Matthew Ray Symonds.

in the review Trends in ecology and evolution Sarah Riding writes on the main findings of the study.

He must adapt or die

When climate change is mentioned in the media, people ask, ‘How should we adapt? Or “What kind of technology can solve this problem?” But it’s time we realized that wildlife must adapt to these changes as well. We are seeing that wildlife is changing faster now than it was before in evolution, Riding told the website.

The climate changes we have brought about have put pressure on wildlife and some species will be able to adapt. Others don’t.

She adds that climate change is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon that has evolved over time, so it’s hard to pinpoint a single reason why animals have changed shape. At the same time, these changes have been detected over large geographic areas and in many different animal species, which have little in common other than climate change.

drastic changes

Among particularly different bird species, drastic changes in appearance have been observed so far, for example many Australian parrots have larger beaks. Measurements show that their beak size has increased an average of 4-10% since 1871, which coincides with summer temperatures year after year.

In North America, the Winter Scrap, a small songbird, has grown larger bills after several periods of extreme temperatures. The researchers also noted that young forest mice have longer tails and that the masked shrew, an animal in the shrew family, has longer legs.

The increase in limb size is so small so far, less than 10 percent, so it’s barely noticeable, says Riding.

But other notable parts of the body are also expected to develop. Like the size of the ears. So we might end up seeing live Dumbo-like animals in the near future you think.

fight for life

The researcher now plans to conduct a 3D survey of birds in museums 100 years ago, to learn more about birds that have changed in appearance due to climate change, and why.

She also claims that the ability of animals to change shape to cope with climate change does not mean “all is well”.

– It just means that they evolve to try to survive. But we don’t know what the other environmental consequences of climate change are, or whether all animals can change fast enough to survive.

Study under the Australian Research Council Discovery Project, a future Australian Research Council Fellowship, and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Discovery Grant.

The case was first mentioned in the scientific daily.

Worse for professionals

According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, WWF, nearly half of the mammals on the official International Red List of Threatened Species are already negatively affected by climate change.

The same goes for a quarter of the birds. The most vulnerable to climate change are those species that specialize in surviving under very specific conditions. Researchers warn that it can get worse over time. Big study shows Climate change could wipe out half of all species (pdf) from natural areas of special value like the Amazon, the Galapagos, Madagascar and the Mediterranean.

On the Norwegian Red List of Threatened Species 87 species listed as threatened by climate change.


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