Climate Change Threatens Mammals

Almost 10 percent of mammals in the Western Hemisphere won’t be able to shift their territories in time to avoid the consequences of climate change.

By | May 16, 2012

image: Climate Change Threatens Mammals Howler monkeys. Wikimedia Commons, Steve

Howler MonkeysWIKIMEDIA COMMONS, STEVE

Climate change may occur too quickly for many animals, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Monday (May 14). Researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle estimate that climate change will outpace about 9 percent of mammal species in the Western Hemisphere, bringing about devastating weather changes before the animals can move into new, hospitable territories.

Many species have already begun expanding their ranges to escape the warming climates and changes in precipitation, and may successfully escape significant population crashes. Animals with already dynamic ranges, for example, like caribou and wolves, are expected to be able to outrun climate change. But others, like primates and some rodents, may not respond in time, co-author Joshua Lawler, associate professor of environmental and forest sciences, said in a press release.

The researchers combined projections of the pace of climate change with descriptions of the climate suited to each species, with assumptions about how often and swiftly each species might move to expand its range. Assuming that species disperse once per generation suggests that species that mature slowly, like howler monkeys, would move less often and be slower to respond to changes in climate. Tiny animals like shrews are also expected to fare poorly, because while they might mature quickly and disperse often, they only travel short distances. And the model is conservative, assuming animals will always disperse in the direction most likely to benefit them, and at maximum speed.

"Conservation planners could help some species keep pace with climate change by focusing on connectivity—on linking together areas that could serve as pathways to new territories, particularly where animals will encounter human-land development," lead author Carrie Schloss, a University of Washington research analyst in environmental and forest sciences, said in a press release. Furthermore, "reducing non-climate-related stressors could help make populations more resilient,” she added. “But ultimately, reducing emissions, and therefore reducing the pace of climate change, may be the only certain method to make sure species are able to keep pace with climate change."

Advertisement

Add a Comment

Avatar of: You

You

Processing...
Processing...

Sign In with your LabX Media Group Passport to leave a comment

Not a member? Register Now!

LabX Media Group Passport Logo

Comments

Avatar of: dawgdawg1

dawgdawg1

Posts: 2

May 16, 2012

Maybe its the economy, maybe its the costs of college, maybe its etc. etc... but we just don't seem to have any sense of urgency about the horrific effects of climate change that have already begun to effect the earth. A number of climate scientist now warn that the bad effects of climate change are occuring even faster than they had predicted. Whats wrong with our leaders?  Are they really that stupid? God have mercy....

Avatar of: Derek Hammill

Derek Hammill

Posts: 2

May 16, 2012

Show me the data!  What were the predicted rises in temp?  What are the actual?  1° in the last 100 years!. More storms than average? no.  Lets start being scientists and do science.

Avatar of: dawgdawg1

dawgdawg1

Posts: 2

May 16, 2012

Good try Derek, but the data are there! According to EPA-Climate Change "Since the mid 1970s, the average surface temperature has warmed by about 1 degree." AND "The eight warmest years on record (since 1880) have all occurred sice 2001..."

Avatar of: p_melanchthon

p_melanchthon

Posts: 3

May 16, 2012

Thanks - sometimes I think there is no more science only propaganda

Avatar of: oussu

oussu

Posts: 7

May 17, 2012

Using your own reference Derek:
http://ossfoundation.us/projec...

Notice how the 2008 year alone has 2.5-3.5 deg C increases at the higher lattitudes, which is driving the polar and Antarctic melts.

Avatar of: Derek Hammill

Derek Hammill

Posts: 2

May 21, 2012

That is correct.  In a small area there are temperatures that are 2.5-3.5° warmer than the average from 60 years ago.  You will also notice area that are 1.5-2.5 cooler than that same average.  In general there has been a very minor increase in temperature.  Don't just cherry pick.  Thats not real science.

Avatar of: oussu

oussu

Posts: 7

May 22, 2012

Derek, it isn't just a small area.  Print the entire map, discretize it into unit squares.  Count the ones that are over and the ones that are under temp.  Particularly in the higher lattitudes, there is a vast over abundance of higher than average temps.  No cherry picking required.

Follow The Scientist

icon-facebook icon-linkedin icon-twitter icon-vimeo icon-youtube
Advertisement

Stay Connected with The Scientist

  • icon-facebook The Scientist Magazine
  • icon-facebook The Scientist Careers
  • icon-facebook Neuroscience Research Techniques
  • icon-facebook Genetic Research Techniques
  • icon-facebook Cell Culture Techniques
  • icon-facebook Microbiology and Immunology
  • icon-facebook Cancer Research and Technology
  • icon-facebook Stem Cell and Regenerative Science
Advertisement
Advertisement
Life Technologies