Navigation Links
Animals cope with climate change at the dinner table
Date:2/9/2010

Some animals, it seems, are going on a diet, while others have expanding waistlines.

It's likely these are reactions to rapidly rising temperatures due to global climate change, speculates Prof. Yoram Yom-Tov of Tel Aviv University's Department of Zoology, who has been measuring the evolving body sizes of birds and animals in areas where climate change is most extreme.

Changes are happening primarily in higher latitudes, where Prof. Yom-Tov has identified a pattern of birds getting smaller and mammals getting bigger, according to most of the species he's examined. The change, he hypothesizes, is likely a strategy for survival. Prof. Yom-Tov, who has spent decades measuring and monitoring the body sizes of mammals and small birds, says that these changes have been happening more rapidly.

His most recent paper on the topic, focused on the declining body sizes of arctic foxes in Iceland, appeared in Global Change Biology.

Radical changes in body size

Animal populations in a wide variety of geographical areas-― birds in the UK, small mammals in the arctic, and most recently foxes, lynx and otters in cold Scandinavian regions-― are adapting to a shift in rising temperatures. Where temperature changes are most radical, such as those at higher latitudes, Prof. Yom-Tov has measured the most radical changes of these animals' body size over time.

"This change can be seen as an early indicator of climate change," says Prof. Yom-Tov. "There is a steady increase of temperatures at higher latitudes, and this effect whether it's man-made or natural is having an impact on the animals living in these zones."

In his most recent paper, Prof. Yom-Tov and his Tel Aviv University colleague Prof. Eli Geffen report that arctic foxes are being influenced by changing water currents in the oceans. These changes, likely a result of climate change, affects the foxes' food supplies. Hydrologists are confounded as to why the shifts in currents are happening, but the effect in foxes is evident: their bodies are changing along with the changing currents.

Scientists are finding changes in animals' bodies across the whole animal kingdom. "Climate change is affecting migration patterns and the behavior and growth of birds, mammals, insects, flowers you name it," says Prof. Yom-Tov. "The global warming phenomenon is a fact." What we do with this information may change our world.

Adapting to survive

Whether or not human beings are primarily responsible for climate change, Prof. Yom-Tov says, science shows that plants and animals are rapidly evolving in response to these changes. Smaller bodies allow mammals, for example, to cope with warmer temperatures, since a smaller body size gives the body a proportionally increased surface area for the dissipation of heat, he says.

"These animals need to adapt themselves to changing temperatures. In some regions the changes are as large as 3 or 4 degrees centigrade," says Prof. Yom-Tov. "If they don't adapt, their numbers may decline. If they do, their numbers remain stable or even increase."

Prof. Yom-Tov's method accesses many years' worth of data, comparing bones and skulls that natural history museums and individuals have collected over decades. He measures body sizes by studying various features (cranial size, for example) and then statistically analyzes how they have evolved.


'/>"/>

Contact: George Hunka
ghunka@aftau.org
212-742-9070
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. New on-off switch triggers and reverses paralysis in animals with a beam of light
2. Better food makes high-latitude animals bigger
3. Roe of marine animals is best natural source of omega-3
4. New on-off switch triggers and reverses paralysis in animals with a beam of light
5. Master regulator found for regenerating nerve fibers in live animals
6. Geologist analyzes earliest shell-covered fossil animals
7. PETAs push for changes in USDA testing pays off for animals
8. Scientists remove amyloid plaques from brains of live animals with Alzheimers disease
9. Cell death occurs in the same way in plants, animals and humans
10. Protecting humans and animals from diseases in wildlife
11. Research team finds first evolutionary branching for bilateral animals
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/10/2016)... , March 10, 2016   Unisys Corporation ... and Border Protection (CBP) is testing its biometric identity ... San Diego to help identify certain non-U.S. citizens ... . The test, designed to help determine the efficiency and ... began in February and will run until May 2016. ...
(Date:3/9/2016)... , March 9, 2016  Crossmatch ® ... and enrollment solutions, today announced the addition of ... Altus multi-factor authentication platform. New contextual ... managers to step-up security where it,s needed most ... Washington, DC . --> ...
(Date:3/3/2016)... March 3, 2016  2016FLEX, organized by FlexTech, ... highlighting advancements in flexible, hybrid and printed electronics. ... attendance - have gathered for short courses, technical ... of electronics. The Flex Conference celebrates its 15 ... companies, R&D organizations, and universities contributing to the ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:4/27/2016)... ... April 27, 2016 , ... Cambridge Semantics, the leading ... today announced that it has been named to The Silicon Review’s “20 Fastest Growing ... other markets, Cambridge Semantics serves the needs of end users facing some of the ...
(Date:4/27/2016)... VANCOUVER, British Columbia , April 27, 2016 ... "Gesellschaft" oder "NanoStruck") (CSE: NSK) (OTCPink: NSKQB) ( ... sie im Anschluss an ihre Pressemitteilung vom 13. ... Inc. erhalten hat, ihre Finanzen um zusätzliche 200.000.000 ... auf 4.000.000 Kanadische Dollar zu bringen. Davon wurden ...
(Date:4/27/2016)... , ... April 27, 2016 , ... ... PhD to its Scientific Advisory Board. Dr. Lamka will assist PathSensors in expanding ... detection. , PathSensors deploys the CANARY® test platform for the detection of ...
(Date:4/27/2016)... 27, 2016 MedDay, a biotechnology company ... the appointment of Catherine Moukheibir as Chairman of its Board ... Jean Jacques Garaud , who contributed to the rapid ... immediately. Catherine started her career in strategy consulting ... London .  She held C-Suite level roles ...
Breaking Biology Technology: