Climate change can threaten species and extinctions can impact ecosystem health. It is therefore of vital importance to assess to which degree animals can respond to changing environmental conditions — for example by shifting the timing of breeding — and whether these shifts enable the persistence of populations in the long run. To answer these questions an international team of 64 researchers led by Viktoriia Radchuk, Alexandre Courtiol and Stephanie Kramer-Schadt from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) evaluated more than 10,000 published scientific studies. The results of their analysis are worrisome: Although animals do commonly respond to climate change, such responses are in general insufficient to cope with the rapid pace of rising temperatures and sometimes go in wrong directions. The results are published in the scientific journal Nature Communications.

Monarch butterflies in Mexico

Animals that cannot adapt to changing environments are in danger. 

American pika

In wildlife, the most commonly observed response to climate change is an alteration in the timing of biological events such as hibernation, reproduction or migration (phenological traits). Changes in body size, body mass or other morphological traits have also been associated with climate change, but — as confirmed by this study — show no systematic pattern. The researchers extracted relevant information from the scientific literature to relate changes in climate over the years to possible changes in phenological and morphological traits. Next, they evaluated whether observed trait changes were associated with higher survival or an increased number of offspring. “Our research focused on birds because complete data on other groups were scarce,” says lead author Viktoriia Radchuk (Leibniz-IZW). She adds: “We demonstrate that in temperate regions, the rising temperatures are associated with the shift of the timing of biological events to earlier dates.”

Co-author Steven Beissinger (Professor at the University of California in Berkeley) says “This suggests that species could stay in their warming habitat, as long as they change fast enough to cope with climate change.” However, senior author Alexandre Courtiol (Leibniz-IZW) adds “This is unlikely to be the case because even populations undergoing adaptive change do so at a pace that does not guarantee their persistence.” Co-author Thomas Reed (senior lecturer at University College Cork, Ireland) explains “These results were obtained by comparing the observed response to climate change with the one expected if a population would be able to adjust their traits so to track the climate change perfectly.”

Even more worrisome is the fact that the data analysed included predominantly common and abundant species such as the great tit (Parus major), the European pied flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca) or the common magpie (Pica pica) which are known to cope with climate change relatively well. “Adaptive responses among rare or endangered species remain to be analysed. We fear that the forecasts of population persistence for such species of conservation concern will be even more pessimistic” concludes Stephanie Kramer-Schadt (Head of the Department of Ecological Dynamics, Leibniz-IZW). The scientists hope that their analysis and the assembled datasets will stimulate research on the resilience of animal populations in the face of global change and contribute to a better predictive framework to assist future conservation management actions.

9 COMMENTS

  1. My wife and i were absolutely comfortable John could round up his preliminary research while using the precious recommendations he grabbed while using the web page. It is now and again perplexing to just continually be handing out key points that many some other people might have been making money from. So we keep in mind we have got you to give thanks to because of that. The illustrations you made, the simple site menu, the relationships you will help instill – it is all remarkable, and it’s facilitating our son and us do think this topic is awesome, which is certainly especially mandatory. Many thanks for everything!

  2. Thanks a lot for providing individuals with an extremely marvellous opportunity to check tips from this website. It can be very ideal and also jam-packed with amusement for me and my office friends to search your blog nearly 3 times every week to study the newest stuff you will have. And definitely, we’re certainly astounded with your astounding principles you give. Selected 3 areas in this article are undeniably the most beneficial we have ever had.

  3. I definitely wanted to develop a word to say thanks to you for the precious advice you are sharing at this site. My considerable internet search has at the end been rewarded with incredibly good insight to go over with my two friends. I would mention that we visitors are unquestionably lucky to exist in a decent community with many brilliant professionals with interesting ideas. I feel really fortunate to have come across your weblog and look forward to some more awesome moments reading here. Thanks once again for all the details.

  4. Generally I do not read post on blogs, however I would like to say that this write-up very compelled me to check out and do so! Your writing style has been amazed me. Thanks, quite great post.

  5. I in addition to my friends have been reviewing the best strategies from your website and then the sudden I had an awful feeling I never thanked the site owner for those strategies. These boys are actually as a consequence stimulated to study all of them and have now extremely been taking pleasure in them. Appreciate your truly being well thoughtful as well as for having this form of quality subject matter millions of individuals are really desirous to understand about. My personal sincere regret for not expressing appreciation to sooner.

  6. Thanks so much for giving everyone such a breathtaking opportunity to read critical reviews from this site. It really is so nice and also packed with a good time for me personally and my office friends to search the blog the equivalent of 3 times a week to learn the newest guides you have got. And lastly, I am actually happy considering the unbelievable thoughts you give. Some 3 areas in this post are basically the finest we have had.

  7. I wish to voice my passion for your kindness for visitors who absolutely need help with this particular situation. Your very own commitment to getting the solution all around appeared to be extraordinarily powerful and have usually made those much like me to reach their targets. Your new warm and friendly recommendations entails a lot to me and still more to my office colleagues. Thanks a lot; from all of us.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here