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:12/22/2016)... Dec. 20, 2016  As part of its longstanding mission ... personal genetics company, recently released its latest children,s book, titled ... book focuses on the topics of inheritance and variation of ... (NGSS) taught in elementary school classrooms in the US. ... by illustrator Ariana Killoran , whose previous book with ...
(Date:12/20/2016)... , Dec. 20, 2016 The rising ... rental and leasing is stoking significant interest in ... frequency technology, Bluetooth low energy (BLE), biometrics and ... the next wave of wireless technologies in the ... system to advanced access systems opens the market ...
(Date:12/19/2016)... , 19 de diciembre de 2016  Mosaic Biomedicals SL anunció ... acelerado de MSC-1, un anticuerpo humanizado que se espera comenzar a ... con múltiples sitios previstos a lo largo de Europa y Norteamérica. ... MSC-1 es el ... de leucemia (LIF), una citoquina pleiotrópica que se sobreexpresa en ciertos ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:1/24/2017)... Diego, CA (PRWEB) , ... January 24, 2017 ... ... the development of label-free graphene biosensor assays for fragment-based screening, will ... at the 2017 Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening (SLAS) conference in Washington, ...
(Date:1/24/2017)... ... January 23, 2017 , ... Edward ... first-ever recipient of the National Academy of Sciences Prize in Food and Agriculture ... nutrition. , The annual National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Prize in Food and ...
(Date:1/24/2017)... , Jan. 23, 2017  Today, the Fisher Center ... have funded an important study that could lead to ... onset of Alzheimer,s disease. This groundbreaking research was conducted ... led by Nobel Laureate Dr. Paul Greengard , ... disease. Fisher Center scientists have linked a ...
(Date:1/23/2017)... Resverlogix Corp. ("Resverlogix" or the "Company") (TSX: RVX) today ... based Phase 1 trial with severe kidney ... reducing inflamed protein biomarkers in patients with severe kidney ... this is the first time in medical history that ... between epigenetic regulation and its potential for positive disease ...
Breaking Biology Technology: