Climate change chaos for cold-blooded animals

By Tierney Smith

Cold blooded animal and fish species will respond differently to climate change, with land-based animals expected to have a more unpredictable response, according to latest research.

The study, published in Nature Climate Change, aimed to examine the potential re-distribution of both land and sea species across the world with worsening climate change and found some unexpected results.

Researchers warn that cold-blooded species on land could have a much more unpredictable response to climate change (© Mohamed Malik/Creative Commons)

The researchers looked at the existing data on what temperature ranges 142 different animal species could live within – both hot and cold – comparing those findings with the actual temperature ranges  of the areas where the species exist in the wild.

They wanted to see if the data matched real life experiences.

For cold-blooded animals in the oceans, lab measurements and real-world distribution matched up fairly closely.

But on land, the study found that cold-blooded animals did not live as close to warmer equatorial regions as the lab research found they could.

The researchers say the study highlights warning signs for the future, when they say sea species will move away from the equator in an orderly manner as climate change warms the oceans, but on land, the animal response will be less predictable.

They said there could be many reasons for this – for example a difference in rainfall patterns in warmer areas – but say future research needs to focus not only on how animals move, but why.

Read the full report here.

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