"Museum collections have been underutilized in studying the effects of climate change," Myers said. "We're fortunate in Michigan to have an amazing resource in the U-M Museum of Zoology collection, which contains great records of thousands of Michigan species from hundreds of locations, sampled over the past 100 years."
One study area proved especially valuable for long-term comparisons. The Huron Mountain Club, an 18,000-acre tract of pristine forest in Michigan's Upper Peninsula owned by a private association, includes a 6,400- acre research area where scientists are allowed to carry out field work. The non-profit Huron Mountain Wildlife Foundation has funded three animal surveys there: the first between 1939 and 1942, the second in 1972-1973 and the most recent in 2004-2005, when U-M graduate student Allison Poor Haraminac used methods and trapping grids like those used in the earlier studies.
Combining trapping data from Huron Mountain Club and other locations with museum material and road kill reports, the researchers ended up with a total of 50,000 records, 14,614 of which were for the nine mammal species in the study. When those records were analyzed, they painted a clear picture of mammals on the move.
Of the nine mammal species examined, four have established strongholds or increased in abundance, while five have declined. The increasing species---white-footed mice, southern flying squirrels, eastern chipmunks and common opossums---all are southern species, while the declining species---woodland deer mice, southern red-backed voles, northern flying squirrels, woodland jumping mice, and least chipmunks---are all northern species.
The south-to-north expansion pattern is what you'd expect if climate change is driving the advance, but could
|Contact: Nancy Ross-Flanigan|
University of Michigan