A new study published today in “Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences” by researchers of the LOEWE Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre and Goethe University shows that tropical species will be most at risk from rising temperatures as the discrepancy between physiological thermal limits and projected temperatures is highest in tropical regions.
In contrast, a large part of mammal and bird species in temperate zones will find ambient temperatures in 2080 within their tolerance ranges. However, indirect effects of rising temperatures may counteract opportunities given by species’ physiological tolerances in temperate zones.
In responding to changing ambient conditions, species become extinct, adapt or move to a different, more suitable habitat. One of the largest studies of this kind was carried out by researchers from the German LOEWE Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F) and Goethe University. The study highlights the alternative idea that the species may also just be able to tolerate the ongoing changes.
The researchers selected nearly 460 mammal and bird species and analyzed their tolerated temperature ranges. These estimations were subsequently matched with data from geographical distributions and temperatures in these habitats currently and under projected climatic conditions in 2080. The analyzed species are a representative selection of physiological diversity within the global bird and mammal species.
Are species in temperate zones unmoved by climate change?
From a global perspective, 54% of the bird and 62% of the analyzed mammal species will experience temperatures above their tolerated threshold across 50% of their current distribution for a certain period of time. “However, we found significant regional differences. In 2080 the majority of the analyzed mammal and bird species living in the temperate zones will likely find suitable temperature conditions in a large part of their habitat. But they are not off the hook, because rising temperatures might have indirect effects. For instance, higher temperatures may improve conditions for pathogens or competing species and have negative impacts on the occurrence of food resources,” says Dr. Christian Hof, Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F).
Species-rich tropical regions are most vulnerable to rising temperatures
The share of species which will experience temperatures above their tolerated threshold increases from polar and temperate regions towards tropical regions, even though increases of temperature projected for temperate and polar regions exceed those in the tropics. “Bird and mammal species living in tropical regions tend to live closer to their upper temperature limits. Even small increases in ambient temperatures may therefore challenge their long-term survival,“ explains the lead author of the study, Imran Khaliq, a current PhD student at BiK-F. In addition, projections show decreasing precipitation in tropical regions. This worsens the perspective for tropical species as water availability is crucial for endotherm species (such as mammals and birds) to compensate thermal stress.
Birds adapt physiologically to ambient climate, mammals adapt by behavior
Projections of mammal responses to climate change may contain a substantial component of uncertainty as the data show a higher independence of physiologically-tolerated temperatures and climatic conditions in their habitats when compared to birds. This may be due to differing strategies in coping with extreme temperatures. While in birds, physiological adaptations appear to dominate their strategies to cope with extreme temperatures, mammals have developed behavioral strategies to cope with climatic extremes, e.g. creating preferred microclimates in burrows and dens.
Khaliq, I., Hof, Ch. et al. Global variation in thermal tolerances and vulnerability of endotherms to climate change – Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2014.1097
For more information please contact:
Dr. Christian Hof
LOEWE Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F)
Tel. + 49 (0)69 7542 1804
LOEWE Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F)
Tel. +49 (0)69 7542 1838
Sabine Wendler | Senckenberg
Upcycling 'fast fashion' to reduce waste and pollution
03.04.2017 | American Chemical Society
Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
27.04.2017 | Life Sciences
27.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
27.04.2017 | Earth Sciences