Story at a glance
- Climate change is rapidly changing the environment and threatening the survival of some species.
- A new study found that some animals are already evolving to adapt to these changes.
- Still, the author warns many others may not adapt quickly enough.
The race to survive climate change is on, and one study shows that there are already winners and losers.
“Shapeshifting does not mean that animals are coping with climate change and that all is fine,” Sara Ryding, lead author of the study and a bird researcher at Deakin university, told The Guardian. “It just means they are evolving to survive it – but we’re not sure what the other ecological consequences of these changes are, or indeed that all species are capable of changing and surviving.”
Those that are have already begun evolving to have larger beaks, legs and ears to better regulate their body temperature, according to research cited in the study, which was published in “Trends in Ecology & Evolution.” Since 1871, several species of Australian parrot have shown up to a 10 percent increase in bill size as summer temperatures also rose.
“A lot of the time when climate change is discussed in mainstream media, people are asking ‘can humans overcome this?’, or ‘what technology can solve this?’. It’s high time we recognised that animals also have to adapt to these changes, but this is occurring over a far shorter timescale than would have occurred through most of evolutionary time,” Ryding told The Guardian. “The climate change that we have created is heaping a whole lot of pressure on them, and while some species will adapt, others will not.”
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