Climate change is pushing tropical animals to their limits

Marine mammals are expected to migrate to cooler areas

Climate change is pushing tropical land animals to their bodies’ physiological limits, researchers found. Biologists studied 460 cold-blooded animals around the world and compared where they currently live to regions where they could live in a warming world. Published in Nature Ecology and Evolution, the study also predicted that widespread displacement is likely to occur at a rapid rate in the world’s oceans as species seek cooler places. 

The researchers found species living in more temperate climates are not living as close to the edge of their physiological thermal threshold. “We found that species in temperate environments can deal with higher temperatures than what they generally experience,” said Joanne Bennett, an Australian National University researcher and a co-author on the study. “However, they are probably more susceptible to other climate-related factors such as extreme weather events including drought.” 

Read more from the Australian National University.

Header Image: Marine mammals, including those that rely on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, are expected to be particularly affected by climate change. Credit: Ank Kumar