As temperatures run high, the timer runs out for the world’s slower moving creatures

polar bearThe fate of the worlds creatures is under threat from climate change. This is a fact that is a little like stating the obvious these days, however there is now evidence to suggest that their odds of survival could now be even shorter thanks to studies into the last Ice Age. The theory, which it must be stressed it still a theory, is that when the temperatures rise, the slower-moving animals – particularly amphibians – could become extinct because they cannot out run the changing conditions and reach suitable new territory. 

Research into the area that today forms Canada and Northern Europe shows that the slower the animal, the more likely it was to become extinct. Cold-blooded animals stood less chance than those that could run or fly away because it was harder to escape from the retreating ice. The results go on to suggest that the flatter the landscape – i.e. Denmark – the further the animals have to travel to survive, meaning more animals die out uniform landscapes and they subsequently see less endemic animals. In areas like Northern America, the indigenous Pika was able to hold on because all it had to do was climb the mountain. Areas considered to be “high velocity” – in other words those that saw high speed mass migrations – more than likely saw animals relocate by 100m a year, eventually leaving the area void of native life.

So what do these finding mean in terms of predicting the future? From these studies scientists predict that similar patterns will be seen with the increase in climate change, and, to make matters worse, this time the damage could be even more severe. With the temperatures rising at a greater rate than before, the consequence could be that the animals will have to travel even further in order to reach areas of safety. The chance of this happening is decreased further by the lack of freedom of movement available to creatures in the modern world. The worst case scenario is that when the time comes for migration, there will be nowhere to migrate. Survival will become impossible in the changing landscape and rates of extinction will soar to new levels. If the theories are correct, time is running out for these animals.

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