6 Ways Climate Change is Impacting Animals

By David DeFranza, TreeHugger

Climate change has been blamed for failed crops, drought, severe storms, and rising seas—but these major shifts in weather and climate are only part of the story. Already, climate change is having a profound effect on ecosystems around the world, upsetting and altering the lives of numerous species of animals.

Here are six animals that are struggling to cope with the changes wrought by climate change.

1. Clownfish are Going Deaf

That’s right, the adorable reef-dwellers that served as inspiration for Disney’s Nemo are losing their hearing due to ocean acidification. This means that the fish are suddenly less able to respond to the presence of predators, threatening their survival.

Read more: Ocean Acidification Makes Clownfish Go Deaf

Ryan Somma/CC BY-SA 2.0

2. Evolution Could Go Wild

The conventional wisdom is that evolution happens slowly, over the course of a great many generations. Some new research, however, suggests that faced with rapidly changing environments due to climate change, plant and animal species may be able to kick adaptations into high gear. More research is needed, though some scientists have already witnessed evolutionary changes in select species happening at an accelerated rate.

Read more: Global Warming Could Cause Evolution Explosion


3. Coral Stops Growing

Coral—the foundation of the “rainforest of the ocean”—responds directly to increases in temperature, according to research. Unfortunately, this response is largely negative, with growth rates slowing to a near standstill.

Read more: Coral Species in Red Sea Barely Growing, Thanks to Global Warming

Matt MacGillivray/CC BY 2.0

4. Bird Species Die Off

Recent research has stumbled upon an alarming trend: As average temperature increases, many bird populations decline. The survey, conducted by the University of Utah, found that warming of 3.5 degrees Celsius may result in 600-900 extinctions of land bird species.

Read more: Climate Change May Kill Off 900 Bird Species By 2100

mikebaird/CC BY 2.0

5. Animals Could Get Bigger…

Researchers in California have found that birds around San Francisco Bay and Point Reyes National Seashore have slowly gotten bigger over the last 27 to 40 years. The finding was particularly interesting because it counters some conventional wisdom about how animals will respond to climate change.

Read more: Climate Change Unexpectedly Making California Birds Grow Larger

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

6. …Or They Could Get Smaller

That conventional wisdom suggests that animals—and cold blooded species in particular—will shrink in size as the global average temperature increases. Some research, too, has extended this trend to certain mammals.

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Camilla Vaga
Camilla Vaga5 years ago

that is so horrible

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson6 years ago

scary. we cannot reverse what has been done but we may can stop things from getting worse :(

Robert O.
Bob B6 years ago

In 2001 the consensus amongst climate change fear-mongers was that much of the world was going to be destroyed with huge floods, lack of food, and other disasters - all due to man-made climate change.

They predicted all of that to happen by 2011 unless we stop using oil and go back to living like cave-men.

During those years (and now) the fear-mongerers made millions of dollars with their scary-tales, and with the help of Goldman Sachs carbon trading scams.

Gloria picchetti
Gloria picchetti6 years ago

In terms of getting bigger or smaller I think the "Global Warming Diet" scam is coming soon. Watch out for it!

Shelly Peterson
Shelly Peterson6 years ago

Whooh..clown fish becoming deaf due to the acidification.....that is a new one to me!!
PLEASE MY FRIENDS, KEEP SIGNING EVERY LOGICAL PETITION YOU CAN FIND ON ALL ISSUES THAT CONTRIBUTE TO GLOBAL WARMING...and keep sharing with you family, friends neighbors, co-workers, clerks in your store, people on the buses, in your chrurches and social circles...WE, TOGETHER, CAN SLOW THIS WAY DOWN , RIGHT NOW REAL TIME, 2012!! Thankyou!

Janine Kaczynski
janine Kaczynski6 years ago

Take another tree down, blacktop another road. AND don't replace...THAT's what's doing it. Sailors know the winds have changed because of this. NOBODY is interested from where I sit.

Ingrid A.

I hope people will grow tall trees beside threaten bird genre areas so the bird bevry have a chance to live on higher branches to adapt less air pressure and lower temperature.

Debra Griffin
Missy G6 years ago

Sad & scary

Carrie Anne Brown

interesting article, thanks for sharing :)

Dave C.
David C6 years ago

...in the end bad things will outweigh good things I suspect.....