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Animals moving to keep with rising temps

Nov. 7, 2011 at 5:56 PM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, Nov. 7 (UPI) -- Animal and plant populations will need to move at similar rates to keep up with climate change, U.S. researchers said.

A study published in the journal Science said greenhouse gases have warmed the land by approximately 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit since 1960, roughly three times faster than the rate of ocean warming. "These temperatures have forced wild populations to adapt -- or to be on the move, continually relocating," the National Science Foundation said last week.

Although the oceans have experienced less warming overall, researchers said plants and animals need to move as quickly in the sea as they do on land to keep up with their preferred environments.

Plants and animals must migrate 1.6 miles per year and ocean life must move 1.3 miles per year, the study said.

"Not a lot of marine critters have been able to keep up with that," study co-author John Bruno, a marine ecologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said in a statement. "Being stuck in a warming environment can cause reductions in the growth, reproduction and survival of ecologically and economically important ocean life such as fish, corals and sea birds."

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