Climate change is changing the shape of some animal species

Humans are not the only ones adapting to the effects of global climate change.

Animals also adapt to environmental changes – as some warm-blooded animals begin to “modify” their bodies in response to climate change, according to a recent study in Trends in Ecology & Evolution led by Sara Ryding, researcher at Deakin. University in Australia.

In the study, researchers identified new evidence that supports the theory that some warm-blooded animals experience changes in their bodies due to rising temperatures, in some cases resulting in longer legs, ears, and beaks. fat.

The researchers noted that according to a principle known as “Allen’s Rule”, warm-blooded animals living in colder climates tend to have smaller appendages (like beaks or legs) than animals. of the same species living in warmer climates.

“Most of the time when climate change is discussed in the mainstream media, people ask ‘can humans overcome this? “, or” what technology can solve this? “” Ryding said in a Cell Press press release.

She said that just like humans, animals must also adapt to climate change, as the change in shape of some of the warm-blooded animals occurs on a much shorter time scale than one might expect. ‘wait.

“The climate change that we’ve created is putting a lot of pressure on them, and while some species will adapt, others won’t,” Ryding said.

According to the researchers, some of the most compelling evidence for anatomical changes has been found in birds in Australia and North America.

Some species of Australian parrots have shown an increase of about 4% to 10% in the size of their bills since 1871, which researchers attribute to rising temperatures.

In North America, the Slate Junco has also seen increased bill size. Bigger beaks help birds dissipate excess body heat more efficiently, according to the study, which is a useful trait as global temperatures rise.

It is often difficult to determine why, exactly, a species evolves in a certain way. But according to Cell Press, the researchers said they see this trend in many different types of species and places – and that the experience of climate change is what they all have in common.

“Shape change doesn’t mean animals are dealing with climate change and everything is fine,” Ryding said. “It just means that they evolve to survive it.”

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