Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Climate change driving Michigan mammals north

(There is growing evidence that climate patterns have shifted at least 100-150 miles north in the last 30 years. The Twin Cities are now in climate zone #5, things are growing locally that weren't growing here a generation ago. I can tell you from first-hand observation that black maple trees are growing like weeds up in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area - in the past it's been consistently too cold for this species of maple trees to grow in the BWCA. It will be interesting to see if there is evidence of Minnesota mammals migrating north, but the fact that this is happening 2 states to our east is interesting and potentially relevant. I keep telling people not to look out their window at their thermometer for signs of climate change, but to look out the window and make a note of new species of plants, flowers, birds and other animal life in your yard that weren't there 30-40 years ago).

ScienceDaily (May 13, 2009) — Some Michigan mammal species are rapidly expanding their ranges northward, apparently in response to climate change, a new study shows. In the process, these historically southern species are replacing their northern counterparts.

The finding, by researchers at the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Ohio's Miami University, appears in the June issue of the journal Global Change Biology.

"When you read about changes in flora and fauna related to climatic warming, most of what you read is either predictive—they're talking about things that are going to happen in the future—or it's restricted to single species living in extreme or remote environments, like polar bears in the Arctic," said lead author Philip Myers, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at U-M. "But this study documents things that are happening right now, here at home."

The complete article in ScienceDaily is here.

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