In Warming World, Critters Run to the Hills
In Warming World, Critters Run to the Hills – ScienceNOW.
On average, the team finds, creatures move both up mountains and farther away from the equator at a speed that keeps pace with the rate of climate change and at a pace that is far faster than previously predicted.
But by analyzing 54 papers that met their criteria, the researchers found that, on average, organisms move up hills at 12.2 meters per decade, twice the rate previously described in the literature. And they move away from the equator at 17.6 kilometers per decade, which is three times the rate previously described.
Sifting through the data, the authors were also surprised to find there was no difference between taxonomic groups: plants move at the same rate as insects, and birds are no faster than mammals. But when they looked at individual species, they found that within these taxonomic groups, some species move much faster than others, such as the comma butterfly, which moved northward 220 kilometers in 2 decades. And 22% of species, including the Cirl bunting, even move in the opposite direction toward warmer temperatures, suggesting that they are more flexible to changing climates than others, Thomas says.
Although this is only a “meta analysis,” whereby researchers gather data from previous papers to draw conclusions, it is still quite fascinating. Coming off of a record breaking July heat wave, this data seems particularly relevant.
NeilS – Whether you believe in climate change or not, animals appear to understand that something is changing about our world and are adjusting accordingly. It is hard to say what the effects of climate change will be in the long term, but I know to trust an animal’s instincts. Long have scientists debated whether or not animals can sense danger such as earthquakes better than humans. In this case, it seems they can at least sense the slowly changing climate of our planet.