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
New approach for environmental test on livestock drugs
27.07.2016 | Universität Zürich
Managing an endangered river across the US-Mexico border
18.07.2016 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Scientists and engineers striving to create the next machine-age marvel--whether it be a more aerodynamic rocket, a faster race car, or a higher-efficiency jet...
Waveguides are widely used for filtering, confining, guiding, coupling or splitting beams of visible light. However, creating waveguides that could do the same for X-rays has posed tremendous challenges in fabrication, so they are still only in an early stage of development.
In the latest issue of Acta Crystallographica Section A: Foundations and Advances , Sarah Hoffmann-Urlaub and Tim Salditt report the fabrication and testing of...
Electrochemists at TU Graz have managed to use monocrystalline semiconductor silicon as an active storage electrode in lithium batteries. This enables an integrated power supply to be made for microchips with a rechargeable battery.
Small electrical gadgets, such as mobile phones, tablets or notebooks, are indispensable accompaniments of everyday life. Integrated circuits in the interiors...
Recent findings indicating the possible discovery of a previously unknown subatomic particle may be evidence of a fifth fundamental force of nature, according...
A nanocrystalline material that rapidly makes white light out of blue light has been developed by KAUST researchers.
25.08.2016 | Event News
24.08.2016 | Event News
12.08.2016 | Event News
25.08.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
25.08.2016 | Health and Medicine
25.08.2016 | Information Technology