Animals 'shrinking' due to climate change
Sunday, October 16 2011 @ 02:43 PM EDT
Contributed by: jkr
Rising global temperatures and changes in weather patterns have knock-on effects which are already stunting the growth of a wide range of species.
The change could have a major impact on the expanding human population, with major food sources like fish likely to reduce in size and crops expected to grow smaller and less reliably than today.
Species which are unable to adapt quickly enough are at risk of extinction as ecosystems shift dramatically, altering the balance of food and other resources needed for survival.
Researchers argue that warmer and drier weather causes plants and animals to reach smaller sizes, while more variable rainfall levels raise the risk of failed crop years.
Over the past century animals including toads, tortoises, blue tits, Soay sheep and red deer have all started to reduce in size, they said.
Lower levels of sea ice have even resulted in polar bears getting smaller, according to a report in the Nature Climate Change journal.
Dr David Bickford and Jennifer Sheridan of the National University of Singapore wrote: "The consequences of shrinkage are not yet fully understood, but could be far-reaching for biodiversity and humans alike.
"Because recent climate change may be faster than past historical changes in climate, many organisms may not respond or adapt quickly enough. This implies that species may go extinct because of climate change."
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