Arctic Climate Change’s Effect on Caribou Migration

by Kelsey D’Ewart

The freezing and thawing patterns in the Arctic have been increasingly affected as a result of global temperatures increasing, resulting in earlier later freezing and earlier thawing. This is forcing phenology changes in many Arctic species. Particularly, there has been a change in migration patterns in many species due to the lack of frozen bodies of water. This can lead to longer, more strenuous, and more dangerous migrations that can result in higher mortality rates. Leblond et al. (2016) tracked the ice thawing and freezing times for bodies of water in the migration path of caribou Rangifer tarandus Northern Quebec from 2007−2014, allowing them to determine if the change in ice melt was affecting the caribou’s phenology. Their hypothesis was that the caribou would travel extra distance in order to avoid swimming or water that was not completely frozen. They assessed four different parts of the migration: previous data for freezing trends, the caribou’s response to the change in freezing trends, fine-scale caribou behavior and phenology, and possible future movement using climate change projections. Continue reading

Ecological Networks are more Sensitive to Plant than to Animal Extinction under Climate Change

by Leta Ames

There is a growing need for climate change models that can accurately represent not only the effects on individual species, but also the interactions and compounding effects within ecosystems. These interactions between species form different “mutualistic networks”. Schleuning et al. (2016) modeled the impact of individual species’ responses to climate change in plant-animal mutualistic networks. Specifically, climatic tolerance of 295 plant species, in eight pollinator networks and five seed-disperser networks in unique areas of central Europe were used to understand the relationship between sensitivity to climate change, climatic niche breadth, and biotic specializations. Continue reading

Cape Verdean Loggerhead Turtles More Climate Change Resilient than Expected

by Wendy Noreña

Following growing concerns about the potential effects of climate change, scientists have begun to study declining levels of biodiversity in the natural world. Of especially large concern are cheloniid reptiles, or turtles, which are ectothermic organisms that rely heavily on atmospheric temperatures and regular seasons to regulate internal temperatures, metabolic rates, and, for turtles, male-to-female sex ratios during egg incubation. Marine turtles are of particular interest to conservation work as there are only seven species, there already exists a large amount of research about them, and, most importantly, they are even more susceptible to climate change than other turtle species because of their beach-dependent nesting habits. Though much has been done to form quantitative analyses of marine turtles’ current state in the face of recent climate fluctuations, Perez et. al. seek to create a qualitative ranking system with which to gauge the resilience, or potential to withstand environmental change, of a reptile now and in the future. Continue reading