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5 Species Most Likely To Survive A Climate Change Disaster

5 Species Most Likely To Survive A Climate Change Disaster
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Survival of the fittest. This basic tenet of evolution explains why the dodo bird no longer exists and why humans have opposable thumbs. Adaptation is key to survival, no matter how many fingers you’ve got. The ability to adjust to whatever conditions Mother Earth sends our way determines whether disasters lead to extinction or to a new generation.

Human-accelerated climate change is a disaster waiting to happen. We’ve already seen the superstorms and drought it can create. Although we can work to slow climate change, there’s no way to stop it completely. This reality means adaptation will once again become the most important strategy for survival.

One thing’s for sure: the Earth will continue to exist as it has for eons. The question is, what will be left behind to inhabit it? Below are five species known for their resilience and ability to survive in adverse conditions. They are the most likely to survive a climate change disaster. (Spoiler: human is not on the list).

Amazon Trees

Amazon, trees, adaptation, climate change

A study published in the latest edition of Ecology and Evolution found that a certain Amazon tree species has the ability to survive for millions of years. According to recent tests, some trees in Panama, Ecuador, Brazil, Peru, French Guiana, and Bolivia are around 8 million years old, meaning they’ve already lived through period of much warmer temperatures. However, the study is at odds with other recent research, based on ecological niche-modeling scenarios, which predicted tree species’ extinctions in response to relatively small increases in global average air temperatures. Still, the study authors acknowledge that while the trees might be able to withstand temperature changes, they’re still susceptible to deforestation.

Wolves and Coyotes

Climate change represents a particular threat to mammals. Recent research suggests a safe haven could be out of reach for 9 percent of the Western Hemisphere’s mammals, and as much as 40 percent in certain regions, because the animals just won’t move swiftly enough to outpace climate change. There are some mammals for whom roaming is a way of life, however. Wolves and coyotes are used to wandering vast tracts of wilderness in search of food, water, and safe shelter. Studies show that these traveling carnivores are one of the few species who could keep pace with a changing climate and the relocation of natural resources.

>>Keep reading for more

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8:03AM PDT on Apr 25, 2013

all amazing life forms :) I am sure there are MANY others (bacteria especially) that will not only survive but flourish

4:32PM PDT on Apr 23, 2013


12:11PM PST on Jan 10, 2013


7:10AM PST on Jan 5, 2013

thanks for sharing :)

11:17AM PST on Jan 2, 2013

I have to disagree that humans wouldn't be among the survivors. We are one of the most adaptable species that have ever existed. Civilization, on the other hand doesn't stand a chance. It might we well to remember that while humanity is likely to survive, most individuals would not. It would also be well to remember that all of the easy to obtain natural resources have already been exploited, so there's little chance another technological civilization could ever arise.

8:06AM PST on Jan 1, 2013

You do not mention the house cat and is tough and adapting! Lots feral cats they make a living well.

9:26PM PST on Dec 26, 2012

Thanks, what about rats and mice?

4:47PM PST on Dec 26, 2012

At present, with fairly noticeable seasonality in the temperate zones, cockroaches tend to require environments created by human beings. I.e., once human beings go extinct, their water supply ceases and their buildings fall into disrepair, conditions will not be better for cockroaches than for many other arthropods. As it is, in the US, the invasive German cockroaches (the smaller kind) tend to do better up North than the American cockroaches, aka palmetto bugs (the larger kind, and more solitary), whose natural range is in the South.

It is likely true that highly mobile animals who like to wander, such as wolves and coyotes, and who can eat many kinds of food, stand a better chance of getting through an extinction event than others. That is probably how the ancestral birds, who are really a kind of dinosaur, got through the mass extinction at the end of the Cretaceous period: birds are now the most mobile of modern terrestrial vertebrates, and they were among the most mobile back then. So probably generalist birds should be on this list of potential survivors, such as corvids.

4:46PM PST on Dec 26, 2012

It was interesting to read about the Amazonian Trees.....

4:08PM PST on Dec 26, 2012

So to the people who don't believe in climate change:
Unless you're a werewolf start taking it seriously.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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Beth Buczynski Beth is a freelance writer and editor living in the Rocky Mountain West. So far, Beth has lived in... more
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