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Study sees climate change's impact on animals

Study sees climate change's impact on animals
File photo. (UPI Photo/Gary C. Caskey) | License Photo

GARDINER, Mont., Dec. 2 (UPI) -- A study of gray wolves in Yellowstone National Park could yield a method to predict how animals will respond to climate change, U.S. and British scientists say.

Researchers say data from the study could help determine which species are better able to cope with climate change and which might be at risk of extinction.

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"We now have the tools to determine how wolves would react to climate change," study leader Tim Coulson, a professor of life sciences at Imperial College London, told The Guardian newspaper.

"With any luck, in the future we can apply the methods developed from the wolves down to small mites or to large herbivores."

The study collected data on the wolves' responses to a changing environment, including population numbers, genetics, body size, and the timing of events in the animals' life cycle such as when they first have pups.

A new computer model developed in the study allows researchers to study how animals react to climate change both in terms of behavior and genetics, Coulson said.

It would have applications far beyond wolf populations, he said.

"In reality we can apply the methods we developed across a range of animals and behaviors."

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