Climate change will hit Europe's mammals

Jan. 15, 2013 at 6:25 PM
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UMEA, Sweden, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- Climate change predicted to 2080 may benefit some mammals in Europe's northernmost land areas if they can reach new climatic ranges, scientists say.

Researchers at Sweden's Umea University said computer modeling of species distribution suggests those climate changes will benefit most mammals that live in Arctic and sub-Arctic land areas if they can successfully negotiate a move into areas that are newly suitable based on the modified climate.

"This will be the case only on the condition that the species can reach the areas that take on the climate these animals are adapted to," landscape ecology Professor Christer Nilsson said. "We maintain that it is highly improbable that all mammals will be able to do so, owing partly to the increased fragmentation of their living environments caused by human beings."

Specialists in cold climate, such as the Arctic fox and the lemming, may suffer with climate change and warming as their normal ranges shrink, he said.

"Such species will reduce the extent of their distribution instead," he said in an Umea release.

Even if climate changes as such do not threaten the majority of Arctic and sub-Arctic mammals, changes in the species mix may do so, researchers said, because predators and their normal potential prey could wind up in different areas as they move with the changes.

The study has been published in the journal PloS ONE.

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