A new study of animal survival in periods of extreme climate change and long term adverse changes in climate by researchers from Brown University published in Ecology Letters on September 29, 2011, suggests that fully half of the known species on Earth could become endangered or die due to the present rate of climate change.
The species examined in the study were amphibians (frogs, salamanders, and toads) because their present territories and means of coping with climate variation are well documented.
Of the 15 species studied, the researchers predict 4 will become extinct, 4 will become endangered, and 7 will survive.
The usual coping method for any animal in climate change (regardless if the temperature is getting hotter or colder than they can tolerate) is migration. The usual migration distance is about 15 miles per decade.
The rate of increase in temperatures will overcome the animal’s ability to migrate by 2100 according to the researcher’s investigations and projections. Twenty years of highly unfavorable climates will produce extinction.
The major factors causing the predicted extinction are the rate of increase in temperatures, the severity of the temperature increase, and the use and occupation of potential new habitats by man.
The researchers propose a possibility of saving all these species by a manmade relocation program but the funding would be enormous and the public will in the United States is just not there.
If a given species dies out the prey that that species consumed could multiply inordinately and potentially could destroy food crops or other vegetation man depends on at present for survival.
The research was the effort of Regan Early and Dov Sax.
The work was reviewed at the Eureka Alert web site September 29, 2011.