Navigation Links
Climate change causes larger, more plentiful marmots, study shows
Date:7/21/2010

LAWRENCE This week, one of the world's foremost scientific journals will publish results of a decades-long research project founded at the University of Kansas showing that mountain rodents called marmots are growing larger, healthier and more plentiful in response to climate change.

The groundbreaking study, published in Nature, is the first to reveal that changes in seasonal timing can increase body weight and population size simultaneously in a species findings likely to have implications for a host of other creatures, especially those that hibernate.

Established by Kenneth Armitage, KU professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology, the long-standing investigation tracks yellow-bellied marmots in Colorado.

"We started this research in 1962, and every summer we'd record basic demography such as the age of the animals, gender, body mass, who survived and who reproduced," Armitage said. "At the time we started, we had no idea that climate change was going to be a problem. But we collected that basic demography to use as a foundation for other kinds of study."

Largely because of the KU researcher, yellow-bellied marmots have proven to be a valuable model organism for understanding larger questions. Armitage said that he first chose to study the marmot because it lives in easy-to-find burrows and is active in the daytime, so it is readily observable.

"I didn't intend to spend 40 years studying marmots, but new questions kept coming up physiological, hibernation, genetics and so on," Armitage said. "It turned out that long-term studies of our kind are quite rare. Yet, it's precisely the kind of data that you need to determine what climate change is going to do."

The climate-change findings result from collaboration between a number of international researchers who used fieldwork by Armitage to underpin their analyses. Both Arpat Ozgul, lead author of the study from Imperial College London, and Dan Blumstein, a co-author from the University of California-Los Angeles, previously have worked with Armitage on the marmot project.

Using data collected between 1976 and 2008, the authors conclude that a longer growing season has boosted marmots' individual size, overall strength and general population. The average weight of fully grown marmots jumped from 6.82 pounds in the early years of the study to 7.56 pounds in the later half of the study.

Additionally, the population growth of marmots increased from 0.56 marmots per year from 1976 to 2001 to 14.2 marmots per year from 2001 to 2008.

"The warming results in earlier snowmelt, which means that plants appear sooner and the marmots come out of hibernation earlier," said Armitage. "They have more fat left which provides them energy to start foraging. Then they can start reproducing so their young are born earlier and have time to get fat enough to survive hibernation. Most importantly, the reproductive female can survive better. Being able to wean her young earlier, she has a longer season and survival of adult females has increased over the last years."

Although Armitage is happy to see the yellow-bellied marmot thrive, the KU researcher cautioned that the boom in marmots is temporary; he expects that warming could harm them in the long run because of changes in snow patterns.

"This benefit to marmots is probably short-lived," he said. "Snow patterns both benefit and harm marmots. Prolonged snow cover in the spring increases mortality and reduces reproduction. But if there's less snowmelt to nourish plants that marmots forage in the summer, it will severely affect them. In droughts, we've had very high mortality."


'/>"/>

Contact: Brendan Lynch
blynch@ku.edu
785-864-8855
University of Kansas
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Long-term study shows effect of climate change on animal diversity
2. White Mountain Research Station to host climate change conference
3. Researchers find animal with ability to survive climate change
4. Severe climate change costs forecast for Pennsylvania, N.C., Tennessee, N.D.
5. Experts discuss climate change during UH lecture series
6. Dont blame cities for climate change, see them as solutions
7. Green coffee-growing practices buffer climate-change impacts
8. Brookhaven scientists take off for southeastern Pacific climate study
9. Himalaya -- Changing Landscapes photo exhibition draws attention to the impacts of climate change
10. British scientists go cloud-hopping in the Pacific to improve climate predictions
11. Northwest climate change is target of $3.2M in grants to University of Oregon
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Climate change causes larger, more plentiful marmots, study shows
(Date:6/21/2016)... 21, 2016 NuData Security announced today that ... of principal product architect and that Jon ... customer development. Both will report directly to ... moves reflect NuData,s strategic growth in its product ... customer demand and customer focus values. ...
(Date:6/15/2016)... ALBANY, New York , June 15, 2016 ... published a new market report titled "Gesture Recognition Market ... Trends and Forecast, 2016 - 2024". According to the ... at USD 11.60 billion in 2015 and is ... and reach USD 48.56 billion by 2024.  ...
(Date:6/7/2016)... , June 7, 2016  Syngrafii Inc. and ... business relationship that includes integrating Syngrafii,s patented LongPen™ ... project. This collaboration will result in greater convenience ... credit union, while maintaining existing document workflow and ... ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/30/2016)... , November 30, 2016 The global ... few players hold a dominant share in the overall ... Laboratories International, Inc., and Merck KGaA, held a lion,s ... Transparency Market Research observes that these companies are expected ... development products that are do not require rabbit pyrogen ...
(Date:11/30/2016)... VANCOUVER , Nov. 30, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -  Equicare ... coordination solutions, has been recognized as one of the ... 100, an annual international listing that distinguishes the top ... "We,ve pushed a great step forward this year continually ... growing our own customer base and team," says ...
(Date:11/30/2016)... -- Part of 5m$ Investment in Integrated Drug ... , ... today announced that it had successfully completed the expansion of ... increased the Screening Collection to over 400,000. The new compounds ... the company. This expansion, complemented by new robotics and compound ...
(Date:11/30/2016)... Triangle Park, NC (PRWEB) , ... November 30, ... ... development company engaged in the development of a new orally administered treatment for ... testing and neuroimaging results of a Phase 2a clinical trial of T3D-959 in ...
Breaking Biology Technology: