Climate change models currently aren’t factoring in important aspects of animal behavior, and therefore could be underestimating its impact on animal extinctions says new research.
“But in real life, animals move around, they compete, they parasitize each other and they eat each other. The majority of our predictions don’t include these important interactions,” explained Mark Urban, an ecologist at the University of Connecticut. ” (Source: Livescience.com)
For example, in a related study scientists found animals they documented were moving at a rate of about eleven miles per decade towards our planets poles. The reason for their movement towards cooler habitats is warming in the areas they have lived for many years. Climate change is making some places both hotter and drier, leading many animals to move. This particular study found the animals they documented were actually moving away from increasingly hot places three times faster than previously thought. Not all the animals move at the same rate – one butterfly species has actually moved over 130 miles north in just two decades. Another example is the vanishing of the Inyo chipmunk from the Sierra Nevada mountains in California.
Animals are not only be subjected to climate change effects though, their habitats are being disrupted or converted to human uses, so they sometimes move wherever they can find natural lands, and that means sometimes they also move south. These movements are exactly what the ecologist was describing that add confusion to the picture for research animal populations, so predicting population size and health is more difficult.
The animals that can’t adapt to the changes in habitat or move quickly enough compared to species that compete with them for habitat, could be more likely to be driven into extinction.
If you are concerned about climate change, you might want to know livestock agriculture is one of the main human-related contributors to the very damaging phenomenon, meaning reducing one’s meat consumption can also reduce climate change emissions.
Image Credit: Quartl