A recent study examines how various mammals are responding to climate change.
Bison and bears are examples of long-lived, low-breeding animals that are more resilient than small, short-lived animals like lemmings and mice.
As the average global temperature rises, extreme weather events such as prolonged droughts and torrential downpours are becoming more frequent, which will only get worse in the near future.
How will the planet’s ecosystems react?
John Jackson, a biologist, said this was the important question and background to their investigation.
Along with Owen Jones of the University of Southern Denmark and Christie Le Coeur of the University of Oslo, Jackson co-authored the new study.
Jackson was at the University of Southern Denmark at the time the study was conducted, but is currently a student at Oxford University.
Jones teaches in the Department of Biology at the University of Southern Denmark.
Climate vs. Mammals
In the study, the authors compared weather and climate data from the time the mammal data was collected with information on the population variability of 157 mammal species from around the world.
There are at least ten years of data for each species.
They now have a better understanding of how animal populations have behaved during periods of extreme weather conditions thanks to their analysis.
They were looking for answers to questions such as:
- Has the number of animal species increased or decreased?
- Did they produce more or less offspring?
Jones said a definite pattern can be seen here: animals with long lifespans and few offspring are less susceptible to extreme weather conditions than those with short lifespans and many offspring.
Consider how mice, possums, and rare marsupials like the woylie differ from long-lived bats, llamas, and elephants.
Their research, published in eLife Sciences, revealed that certain animals, such as the African elephant, chimpanzee, Siberian tiger, greater horseshoe, llama, vicuna, white rhinoceros, bison of in America, the grizzly bear, klipspringer and Schreiber’s bat are less affected. by extreme weather conditions.
However, some animals are more affected by extreme weather conditions than others.
These include arctic ground squirrel, woylie, olive grass mouse, Azara grass mouse, elegant fat-tailed mouse opossum, tundra vole, ermine , arctic fox, common shrew and woylie.
Also Read: Rising Temperatures Increase the Warning Sound of a Snapping Shrimp
Short-lived animals vs drought
The ability of large, long-lived animals to survive, reproduce, and raise their young is not as significantly affected by environmental factors like prolonged drought as it is for small, short-lived animals.
When circumstances become difficult, they may, for example, concentrate their efforts on one child or simply wait for better times.
On the other hand, small, short-lived rodents experience more drastic short-term population changes.
Large parts of their food source, such as insects, flowers, and fruit, can disappear more quickly in prolonged drought, for example, and because they have a limited amount of fat reserves, they can die from hunger.
Since these small mammals can produce more young than large mammals, their populations may increase to take advantage of favorable conditions.
However, Jackson pointed out that several animal species are at risk, often even more so than climate change, due to factors including habitat destruction, poaching, pollution and invasive species, Science Daily reported.
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