Will animals make mass migrations due to changing climate conditions?



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    Definitely. Studies have already shown that global warming has began to affect migratory patterns of thousands of species. Rising global temperatures that have lured plants into early bloom and birds to nest earlier in the spring are altering the ranges and behavior of hundreds of plant and animal species worldwide, two studies conclude. Camille Parmesan, a biologist at the University of Texas at Austin, worked with a colleague to review studies that tracked about 1,700 species, often over several decades. While about half of the species showed no changes in behavior or range shifts, the changes seen in the other half clearly pointed to global warming as the culprit, she said. In an analysis of 172 species of plants, birds, butterflies and amphibians, Parmesan found that spring events such as egg-laying or flower-blooming advanced 2.3 days on average each decade. Her analysis of studies of 99 species of birds, butterflies and alpine herbs in North America and Europe found these species’ ranges have shifted northward an average of about 3.8 miles per decade. Most striking, she said, was the case of the sooty copper, a butterfly common near Barcelona until recent decades. These days, however, residents of the Spanish city must travel about 60 miles north to find this butterfly. Meanwhile, the sooty copper’s northern range, which once ended in Austria, has shifted into Estonia during the past five years, Parmesan said. The insect had previously never been seen in that Baltic nation.

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