Animals: Changes in the ecology and biology of living beings caused by climate change resulting from global warming are no longer a theoretical concept of environmentalists and have been scientifically proven.
A survey released in early September, in the scientific journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution, showed that not only humans, but also animals are having to adapt to the transformations caused by the change in the planet’s temperature.
The study’s lead author, bird researcher Sara Ryding, from Deakin University in Australia, describes these influences that “warm-blooded” animals, notably birds, are receiving from the ecosystem (abiotic factors).This results in changes in their body appendages. , like beaks, legs and ears, to better regulate their body temperature as the planet warms.
Ryding comments in a statement that issues hotly debated in the media, such as whether and how humans will be able to overcome global warming, should take into account two factors. Firstly, animals also need to adapt to climate change, but this is happening in a very short period of time in relation to the evolutionary scale. “Some species adapt, others don’t”, says the researcher.
More body areas to dissipate heat
The most profound morphological changes reported by the research are found in birds, such as some Australian parrots (which had an increase of up to 10% in the size of their beaks) and dark-eyed reed birds, but also in small mammals, such as the wood mice (which had an increase in their tails) and also masked shrews that, in addition to their tails, are being born with longer legs.
For Ryding, these shape changes are likely to continue because the trend toward increasing temperature rises will influence the demand of animals for larger areas of their bodies to dissipate heat. This could be seen in the summer in the Northern Hemisphere, which registered the highest temperatures in decades, making July the hottest month ever in the northern region of the planet.
However, emphasizes Ryding, all these metamorphoses do not indicate that animals can cope with climate change and that everything is fine. It just means they are rapidly evolving to survive. “But we’re not sure what the other ecological consequences of these changes are.” If other appendages start getting bigger, like ears, it’s possible we’ll soon have a live-action version of Dumbo, he jokes.