which animals will be the most resistant?

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© By Edlund

As effects of global warming induce deadly weather and ecosystem disruptions, researchers analyze animal and climate change findings

Extreme weather conditions such as prolonged drought and heavy rain are becoming more common as the global average temperature rises, driving climate change – and it will only get worse in the decades to come.

Researchers from the University of Southern Denmark, looking at how the planet’s ecosystems will respond to climate change, estimate which animals will be most and least resilient to climate change and its effects.

Predicting ecological changes for animals and climate change

The study researchers expect that the ability of different animal species to adapt to climate change is linked to their life strategy, which can help predict ecological changes to extreme weather conditions.

For example, as habitat suitability changes with climate change, some species may be forced to move to new areas as old areas become inhospitable. These changes depend on the life strategies of the species and can have significant impacts on the functioning of the ecosystem.

The ability of an animal species to withstand climate change should not be isolated when assessing the species’ vulnerability to extinction

Analyzing the population fluctuations of 157 mammal species from around the world, the researchers compared them to weather and climate data from the time the animal data was collected. For each species, there are 10 or more years of data.

Overall, research has shown that animals that live long and have few offspring are less vulnerable to extreme weather conditions than animals that live short and have many offspring.

Which species should be most and least affected?

Less affected by extreme weather conditions:

  • African Elephants
  • siberian tigers
  • Chimpanzees
  • Greater horseshoe bats
  • LamasVicunas
  • white rhinoceros
  • grizzlies
  • american bison
  • Klipspringers
  • Schreibers’ bats

Most affected by extreme weather conditions:

  • Azara’s field mice
  • olive tree mouse
  • Elegant fat-tailed mouse possums
  • Canadian lemmings
  • Tundra voles
  • arctic foxes
  • ermine
  • common shrews
  • woyles
  • arctic ground squirrels

Overall, larger, long-lived animals are better able to cope with conditions such as prolonged drought; and their ability to survive, reproduce, and raise offspring is not affected to the same extent as small, short-lived animals.

They are able, for example, to invest their energy in an offspring or to wait for better times when the conditions become more difficult.

Conversely, small, short-lived animals, such as rodents, experience more extreme (and potentially deadly) short-term population shifts. For example, in the event of prolonged drought, a large part of their food base can disappear more quickly: insects, flowers, fruits, and they are left to starve because their fat reserves are limited.

However, these populations of small mammals can also reproduce rapidly to take advantage of improved conditions because, unlike large mammals, they can produce many offspring – which could indicate better long-term adaptation.

A hunting Common Shrew Sorex araneus
© Sandra Standbridge

Vulnerability factors of different animals and climatic extremes

While small mammals react quickly to extreme weather conditions, their vulnerability to extreme weather conditions is not equated to an extinction risk.

Overall, an animal species’ ability to withstand climate change should not be isolated when assessing the species’ vulnerability to extinction, as other factors can greatly affect survival rates. survival.

For example, habitat destruction, poaching, pollution and invasive species are factors that threaten many animal species, sometimes even more than climate change.

For example, habitat destruction, poaching, pollution and invasive species are factors that threaten many animal species, sometimes even more than climate change.

Climate change will bring more extreme weather in the future, and animals will have to deal with these extreme weather conditions as they always have, but now this study can provide insight into how these 157 species of specific mammals react to climate change.

This research could potentially contribute to a better understanding of how the planet’s animals will respond to ongoing climate change and how humans can better protect vulnerable species.

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