Global warming has become a problem today, as the planet’s temperature is accelerating and, furthermore, at an exponential rate. This warming is in the nature of the Earth, it is part of its cycles just like cooling, but humans, with various polluting activities, contribute to this process of increasing temperature to accelerate remarkably.
The impacts are diverse: melting glaciers, rising sea levels, drying up forests, and so on. However, in this AgroCorrn article, we will focus on what global warming affects living things .
- How Global Warming Affects Animals
- Examples of animals affected by global warming
- How climate change affects animals: hybrid species
How Global Warming Affects Animals
Throughout the history of the Earth there have been interglacial periods and periods of global warming . These climatic changes are attributable, in part, to the Earth’s own axis of inclination and its orbit with respect to the Sun, something that causes that in high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere there is a cooling during the summer months.
It is possible that part of the warming, or at least its acceleration, is due to the large amount of greenhouse gases . These gases, staying in a certain balance, have allowed and allow the Earth to be habitable, although their levels have varied throughout history.
During the last two centuries, the concentration of these gases has increased exponentially due to various human activities, causing the trend in the Earth’s climate to be reversing and causing greater global warming .
Any vital process in an organism is affected by temperature, both at the level of metabolism and its reproduction, its area of distribution, its mode of reproduction, survival, physiology or behavior.
Regarding the influence of environmental temperature, the first thing is to distinguish the animals commonly called ‘warm-blooded’ or endothermic animals (mammals, birds) that are capable of producing metabolic heat, from those that are not capable of producing it, that is , ‘cold-blooded’ animals or ectotherms (invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles and fish). Although all animals are affected by temperature, they are the second most vulnerable and, in many cases, with very narrow optimal temperature ranges, as happens for example in some fish, limiting their survival.
In the case of plant species, they are even much more influenced by temperature than animals.
Examples of animals affected by global warming
The species must adapt to these new conditions or migrate to other territories. It has been seen that there is a movement of species from their place of origin towards the poles or towards higher latitudes, where temperatures are colder. This can also be related to invasions of species outside their ranges and their consequences. For example, there are already mosquito-borne diseases typical of Asia or Africa that are spreading to other continents.
There are birds that have had to bring the breeding season forward to spring, migratory birds that start their travels earlier, trees in Europe that later start to change the color of their leaves during autumn, plant species that invade ecosystems that are not suitable for them. their own, coral reefs that are fading due to the increase in temperature or the case of Krill (food for many marine animals), whose range of reproduction is decreasing due to the reduction of glaciers in Antarctica.
However, it is impossible for many species to adapt or migrate , leading to their extinction , further exacerbating the current loss of global biodiversity .
How climate change affects animals: hybrid species
Since species are changing their ranges, currently species that were millions of years ago are joining , which together with changes in their reproductive times (making them often coincide with those of another species) are making them start to appear hybrids , products of their cross. While this is not new, as is the case with mule or grapefruit, this process is currently on the rise.
One of the examples is that of the European toad ( Bufo bufo ) and the Balearic toad ( Bufotes balearicus ) , distributed in different areas of southern Italy and the Balearic Islands. In a recent study, it was found that these species were capable of mating and reproducing and, in their embryonic development in the laboratory, new tadpoles emerged with malformations and unable to complete the metamorphosis or reproduction of the European trout with the rainbow trout ( a very invasive species).
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