Global warming is making species smaller
Sep 26, 2011
Experiments show that cold-blooded species get smaller as the temperature of the climate goes up, according to Andrew Hirst of Queen Mary, University of London. On average, an increase in temperature of 1 degree Celsius reduces these creatures' adult body mass by 2.5 percent.
Hirst pulled together data on 15 species of copepod that swim in the oceans to find out why this happens, New Scientist reports. He concluded that the copepods got heavier faster as temperatures rose because their physiological reactions accelerate at warmer temperatures. He also noted that they matured to adulthood faster in warmer temperatures, which he believes has something to do with evolution favoring species that can be flexible in how fast they mature.
By becoming adults faster, the species reduce the odds that they will be killed before they can reproduce, Hirst pointed out, the news source reports. Although interesting, these changes in the food chain will also create "unpredictable knock-on effects in the ecosystem," which could prove to be detrimental, Hirst said.
Among these changes, some Americans still argue that global warming does not exist, CBS News reports. Americans' "undying urge to deny" has been strong ever since the issue was brought up in 1975.