Global warming may cause some animals to move uphill

January 22nd, 2009 - 2:26 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Jan 22 (ANI): A new research has found that due to global warming, some animals can move uphill to cope with the changes in the climate.

This research is an offshoot of an earlier study, which was carried out in 1965 by three undergraduates to trap moths on Mount Kinabalu in Borneo.

Unknowing to the students, they established the groundwork for a study of the impacts of climate change.

Now, the research, led by the University of York, has repeated the survey 42 years later, and found that, on average, species had moved uphill by about 67 metres over the intervening years to cope with changes in climate.

This is the first demonstration that climate change is affecting the distributions of tropical insects, the most numerous group of animals on Earth, thus representing a major threat to global biodiversity.

Tropical insects form the most diverse group of animals on Earth, but to-date, we have not known whether they were responding to climate change, said University of York PhD student I-Ching Chen, first author of the new study.

The last Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change AR4 Report showed a gaping hole in the evidence. Our new study is good in that it increases the evidence available, but it is potentially bad for biodiversity, he added.

Armed with the data from 1965, moth-trapping equipment, tents, sleeping bags and rations, I-Ching and colleagues set out to repeat the original survey.

Photographs from the 1965 expedition led us back to exactly the same sites sampled 42 years ago, said Dr Suzan Benedick, expedition member, and Universiti Malaysia Sabah entomologist.

The new survey involved climbing the mountain and catching moths up to an elevation of 3,675 metres above sea level.

Once all of the specimens had been caught and identified, then the team compared the heights at which each species had been found in 1965 and again in 2007.

The results revealed a highly statistically significant shift, indicating that the moths are now found higher on the mountain than previously.

According to Professor Thomas, from the University of York, Many of the species found by the expeditions have never been found anywhere else on Earth. As these species get pushed uphill towards cooler conditions, the amount of land that is available to them gets smaller and smaller, he said.

And because most of the top of the mountain is bare rock, they may not be able to find suitable habitats, even if the temperature is right. Some of the species are likely to die out, he added. (ANI)

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