Here Are Some Of The Ways That Climate Change Is Messing With Plants And Animals

Diply 13 Apr 2018

Climate change is a problem. I think we all (or most of us, at least) know this by now. Rising temperatures bring rising oceans, volatile weather, and disruption to the systems that help facilitate life on Earth.

It's accelerating so fast, in fact, that the evidence of the harm it's causing is abundant.

All kinds of species are being forced to migrate to cooler climates.

Wikimedia Commons | MichaelKirsh

In a study published in Science, researchers found that plants and animals are shifting from increasingly hot areas to more tolerable temperatures up to three times faster than previous estimates.

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Color-changing animals are more vulnerable.

Wikimedia Commons | Michael Haferkamp

Some species, such as the arctic fox, have coats that turn white in the winter to camouflage them against the snow. Scientists have found that, as snow becomes more scarce, these animals become more vulnerable to predators.

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Orchids are suffering.

Wikimedia Commons | Björn S.

The early spider orchid relies on bees for pollination — but as changing temperatures lure bees from hibernation earlier and earlier, the life cycle of the orchid becomes messed up as the bees aren't as likely to help pollinate it.

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The greenery on mountains is changing.

Wikimedia Commons | Wikimedia Commons

Researchers studying mountain plants in the Alps found that climate change means that plants at lower elevations are flourishing. This isn't great news, however, as it means that plants at higher elevations are suffering and becoming scarce.

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Bees don't know how to deal.

Wikimedia Commons | gailhampshire

Studies have shown that rising temperatures are moving the southern range of bumblebee populations north, while the northern boundary remains the same — meaning that their range has effectively shrunk.

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Sea turtle populations are out of wack.

Wikimedia Commons | P. Lindgren

Warmer temperatures mean more female sea turtles are born. This is fine when temperatures are stable. But rising temperatures mean that 99% of green sea turtles along the Great Barrier Reef are female.

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Flycatchers have less time to catch flies.

Wikimedia Commons | Francesco Veronesi

These birds have a brief window to feed their young, but climate change has caused their favorite foods to dwindle, meaning European pied flycatchers have an increasingly small window to catch flies.

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Bats are falling out of the sky.

Wikimedia Commons | Andrew Mercer

Bats, particularly flying foxes, have brains that are extremely susceptible to heat. In a recent Australian heatwave, hundreds or thousands of bats died, with one expert saying that the heat basically causes their brains to boil.

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Birds are losing the battle with agriculture.

Wikimedia Commons | Charlesjsharp

Birds like the Northern lapwing and Eurasian curlew like to lay their eggs in barley fields after crops have been sown. But rising temperatures mean earlier egg-laying, which in turn means that nests are getting destroyed by farm equipment.

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Iguanas are getting chilly.

Wikimedia Commons | PKLSPC

Climate change brings extreme weather, and a freezing "bomb cyclone" that hit Florida made temperatures so cold that local iguanas, which are cold-blooded creatures, found it difficult to warm themselves up again.

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The delicate balance between caribou and food is disrupted.

Wikimedia Commons | Bering Land Bridge National Preserve

Caribou rely mainly on lichen for their diet. As temperatures rise, lichen has been emerging earlier in the year. The problem is that caribou haven't made this shift, which means that baby caribou are without their vital food source.

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Penguins are fighting a losing battle.

Wikimedia Commons | Jerzy Strzelecki

Antarctica's Adélie penguin has seen big population declines over the past few decades. There's a multitude of possible reasons, all relating to climate change: rising sea temperatures, dwindling ice, and premature snow melts are all hurting these penguins.

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These possums are already basically extinct.

Alert Conservation | Michael Trenerry

The white lemuroid ringtail possum has been deemed "ecologically extinct." This is because its Australian rainforest home has changed. There's less leaf moisture in their high-altitude habitat, meaning their primary source of sustenance is basically gone.

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Less ice, less polar bears.

Wikimedia Commons | Mbz1

Melting sea ice has had a huge impact on polar bears. In fact, if current melting trends continue, it's believed that the majority of polar bears could be extinct by the year 2050.

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Coral reefs are in rough shape.

Wikimedia Commons | Richard Ling

Coral is a massive, living organism. Australia's Great Barrier Reef has suffered greatly, but other reefs around the world are also being killed by climate change as warmer seas cause them to bleach out and die.

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History is repeating itself.

Wikimedia Commons | Tiia Monto

Fossil analysis shows that small mammal populations suffered greatly after the last Ice Age around 12,000 years ago. This shows that changing temperatures can have such a drastic effect on life that the results are still visible thousands of years later.

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