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Extinctions linked to climate change

ex impacts of global warming. In that case, they found that greenhouse warming and other climate changes were increasing the frequency and intensity of El Nino events, which affected precipitation in the Cascade Range of the Pacific Northwest. Ultimately, that resulted in lowered water depths in mountain lakes, higher levels of exposure of amphibian embryos to UV-B radiation in sunlight, and egg mortality in the western toad that approached 100 percent in some years, due to an opportunistic disease.

In the current Nature article, researchers pointed to more examples.

"The climate change in the Arctic and sub-Arctic has modified the life cycle of the nematode parasites of musk oxen," the researchers said. "These worms can now complete their life cycle in one year, instead of two, and their rising numbers are having a significant impact on musk oxen survival."

In a similar interaction, Blaustein said, the mountain pine beetle in parts of the western United States is completing its life cycle in one year, instead of two, leading to increasing problems with the fungus they carry. "When pathogens such as this can spread more rapidly, they can do more damage in much less time," he said.

The problem does not stop with amphibians or other species. Dengue fever, a deadly disease of humans, is increasing its range out of the tropics and is now found in parts of the southern United States. And predicting how climate change will favor a certain pathogen or disease transmission is extremely difficult.

"We should expect the unexpected," Blaustein and Andy Dobson of Princeton University wrote in their report. "Terms such as 'enigmatic decline' and 'pathogen-climate paradox' will probably dominate explanations of extinctions until we develop a better understanding of the relationships between global change, pathogens and their hosts."

For years, zoologists and biologists have been warning that global amphibian declines, which are beli
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Source:Oregon State University


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