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Recent, rapid climate change is driving evolution of animal species

ns relating to the generally expected direct effects of increasing temperature. There are no examples in animal populations of genetic changes that have either increased the upper limits of heat tolerance or increased the optimal temperature for growth, development and reproduction.

"Small animals with short life cycles and large population sizes will probably adapt to longer growing seasons and be able to persist," said Bradshaw. "However, populations of many large animals with longer life cycles and smaller population sizes will experience a decline in population size or be replaced by more southern species."

"Consequently, genetic shifts in the timing of seasonal events should precede genetic shifts of thermal optima or increased heat tolerance over evolutionary time," said Holzapfel. "That is the pattern that is emerging. Questions remain about the relative rates of environmental and evolutionary change. However, it is clear that unless the long-term magnitude of rapid climate change is widely acknowledged and effective steps are taken to mitigate its effects, natural communities that we are familiar with will cease to exist."


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Source:University of Oregon


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