Thursday, January 23, 2014

Large Animals at More Risk From Climate Change

Elk.  A new study by CU-Boulder researchers indicates larger mammals in North America, including elk, are 27 times more likely to respond to climate change than small mammals. (Credit: Christy McCain, University of Colorado) Click to enlarge.
Large mammals are responding more to human-caused climate change than small mammals, according to a new assessment.

Christy McCain of CU-Boulder's ecology and evolutionary biology department said she and King were surprised by some of the findings.  "Overall the study suggests our large, charismatic fauna -- animals like foxes, elk, reindeer and bighorn sheep -- may be at more risk from climate change," she said.  "The thinking that all animals will respond similarly and uniformly to temperature change is clearly not the case."

"I think the most fascinating thing about our study is that there may be certain traits like body size and activity behaviors that allow some smaller mammals to expand the range of temperature and humidity available to them," said McCain, also a curator of vertebrate zoology at the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History.  "These areas and conditions are not available to bigger mammals that live above the vegetation and experience only ambient temperatures."

Large Animals at More Risk From Climate Change

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