5 Plants and Animals Utterly Confused by Climate Change

This article discusses the impact climate change is having on multiple species, including the snowshoe hare, caribou, some birds (Northern lapwing and Eurasian curlew in Finland, and the European pied flycatcher), and  orchids. Global warming is causing spring to arrive early and autumn to come late in many places, and not all species are adapting at the same rate.

Every year, as the seasons change, a complex ballet unfolds around the world. Trees in the Northern Hemisphere leaf out in the spring as frost recedes. Caterpillars hatch to gorge on leaves. Bees and butterflies emerge to pollinate flowers. Birds leave the Southern Hemisphere and fly thousands of miles to lay eggs and feast on insects in the north.

All of these species stay in sync with each other by relying on environmental cues, much as ballet dancers move to orchestral music.

But global warming is changing the music, with spring now arriving several weeks earlier in parts of the world than it did a few decades ago. Not all species are adjusting to this warming at the same rate, and, as a result, some are falling out of step.

Scientists who study the changes in plants and animals triggered by seasons have a term for this: phenological mismatch. And they’re still trying to understand exactly how such mismatches — like the blooming of a flower before its pollinator emerges — might affect ecosystems.

 

Comments are closed.