Endangered North American butterfly fights back against climate change


This video is called The Endangered Quino Checkerspot Butterfly.

From Wildlife Extra:

Endangered butterfly fights back against climate change

April 2014: The endangered Quino Checkerspot butterfly, found in Mexico and California, is defying climate change by adapting both its habitat and diet, a study has revealed.

The butterfly suffered dramatic population collapses during the last century along the southern edge of its range in Baja California as a result of climate change and agricultural and urban development.

But rather than heading toward extinction the butterfly has adapted to the changing climate by shifting to a higher altitude and changing its host plant to a completely new species.

Other species have been seen changing either habitat or diet to cope with a changing climate but the Quino Checkerspot may be amongst the first butterfly species to change both.

Professor Camille Parmesan from Plymouth University, explained:

“Quino today is one of the happy ‘surprises’, having managed to adapt to climate change by shifting its centre of abundance to higher elevation and onto a plant species that was not previously known to be a host.”

See also here. And here. And here.

Murdoch-owned media hypes lone metereologist’s climate junk science: here.

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United States chickadees and climate change


This video from the USA is called Carolina Chickadee Sound.

From All About Birds blog in the USA:

Warming Temperatures Are Pushing Two Chickadee Species—and Their Hybrids—Northward

By victoria on Thursday, March 6th, 2014

The zone of overlap between two popular, closely related backyard birds is moving northward at a rate that matches warming winter temperatures, according to a study by researchers from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Villanova University, and Cornell University. The research was published in Current Biology on Thursday, March 6, 2014.

In a narrow strip that runs across the eastern U.S., Carolina Chickadees from the south meet and interbreed with Black-capped Chickadees from the north. The new study finds that this hybrid zone has moved northward at a rate of 0.7 mile per year over the last decade. That’s fast enough that the researchers had to add an extra study site partway through their project in order to keep up.

“A lot of the time climate change doesn’t really seem tangible,” said lead author Scott Taylor, a postdoctoral researcher at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “But here are these common little backyard birds we all grew up with, and we’re seeing them moving northward on relatively short time scales.”

This video from the USA is about black-capped chickadees.

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United States trees leafing out sooner than in Thoreau’s time


This video from the USA is called Henry David Thoreau‘s Walden: A Tribute.

From Boston University in the USA today:

Walden trees leafing out far earlier than in Thoreau’s time

9 minutes ago by Richard Primack

Climate-change studies by Boston University biologists show leaf-out times of trees and shrubs at Walden Pond are an average of 18 days earlier than when Henry David Thoreau made his observations there in the 1850s. However, not all plants respond in the same way, the result of which is that native species eventually may be threatened and lose competitive advantage to more resilient invasive shrubs such as Japanese barberry, according to a study published in the new edition of New Phytologist.

Walden trees

“By comparing historical observations with current experiments, we see that climate change is creating a whole new risk for the native plants in Concord,” said BU Prof. Richard Primack. “Weather in New England is unpredictable, and if plants leaf out early in warm years, they risk having their leaves damaged by a surprise frost. But if plants wait to leaf out until after all chance of frost is lost, they may lose their competitive advantage.”

The study began when Caroline Polgar, a graduate student with Primack, examined Thoreau’s unpublished observations of leaf-out times for common trees and shrubs in Concord in the 1850s, then repeated his observations over the past five springs.

“We started to wonder if all trees and shrubs in Concord are equally responsive to warming temperatures in the spring,” Polgar said. What she found was surprising. “All species—no exceptions—are leafing out earlier now than they did in Thoreau’s time,” she said. “On average, woody plants in Concord leaf out 18 days earlier now.”

In New England, plants have to be cautious about leafing out in the early spring. If they leaf out too early, their young leaves could suffer from subsequent late frost. Since leafing-out requirements are thought to be species-specific, the group designed a lab experiment to test the responsiveness of 50 tree and shrub species in Concord to warming temperatures in the late winter and early spring.

For the past two winters, the researchers traveled to Concord and collected leafless dormant twigs from each species, and placed them in cups of water in their lab. Over the following weeks, they observed how quickly each species was be able produce their leaves in these unseasonably warm lab conditions.

“We found compelling evidence that invasive shrubs, such as Japanese barberry, are ready to leaf out quickly once they are exposed to warm temperatures in the lab even in the middle of winter, whereas native shrubs, like highbush bluberry, and native trees, like red maple, need to go through a longer winter chilling period before they can leaf out—and even then their response is slow,” says Amanda Gallinat, a second-year graduate student and third author of the paper.

The strength of this study, Gallinat said, is the pairing of observations and experiments.

“Our current observations show that plants in Concord today are leafing out earlier than in Thoreau’s time in response to warm temperatures,” she said. “However, the experiments show that as spring weather continues to warm, it will be the invasive shrubs that will be best able to take advantage of the changing conditions.”

The spring growing season is of increasing interest to biologists studying the effects of a warming climate, and in coming decades non-native invasive shrubs are positioned to win the gamble on warming temperature, Primack said. The BU group is adding these findings to a growing list of advancing spring phenomena in Concord and elsewhere in Massachusetts, including flowering dates, butterfly flight times, and migratory bird arrivals.

Explore further: Warm winters let trees sleep longer.

More information: docs.google.com/file/d/0B05KETqlwfNmdnRhTHF3QTNzYkU/edit?pli=1

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Antarctic emperor penguins and global warming


This video is called Emperor penguins – The Greatest Wildlife Show on Earth – BBC.

From Wildlife Extra:

Antarctic emperor penguins may be adapting to warmer temperatures

January 2014: Antarctic emperor penguins could be capable of adapting to environmental change declares a new study. Four colonies were studied by scientists from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), the Australian Antarctic Division and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego in California.

Their results suggest that unexpected breeding behaviour may be a sign that the birds are adapting to climate change. It was found that when the sea ice formed later than usual penguin colonies moved from their traditional breeding grounds to the much thicker floating ice shelves that surround the continent. This is positive news for the birds’ future.

At the moment the emperor penguins’ reliance on sea ice as a breeding platform and concern about changing patterns of sea ice have both led to the species being designated as ‘near threatened’ by the IUCN Red List.

Barbara Wienecke of the Australian Antarctic Division said, “These new findings are an important step forward in helping us understand what the future may hold for these animals, however, we cannot assume that this behaviour is widespread in other penguin populations. The ability of these four colonies to relocate to a different environment – from sea ice to ice shelf – in order to cope with local circumstances, was totally unexpected. We have yet to discover whether or not other species may also be adapting to changing environmental conditions.”

Lead author, Peter Fretwell of BAS said, “Satellite observations captured of one colony in 2008, 2009 and 2010 show that the concentration of annual sea ice was dense enough to sustain a colony. But this was not the case in 2011 and 2012 when the sea ice did not form until a month after the breeding season began. During those years the birds moved up onto the neighbouring floating ice shelf to raise their young.

“What’s particularly surprising is that climbing up the sides of a floating ice shelf – which at this site can be up to 30 metres high – is a very difficult manoeuvre for emperor penguins. Whilst they are very agile swimmers they have often been thought of as clumsy out of the water.”

See also here.

Why does the Antarctic hold such allure for those who go there? Alok Jha speaks to explorers drawn by the power of the ice, the extraordinary wildlife, the adventure and the isolation: here.

How many emperor penguins live in the Ragnhild colony in Antarctica? Here.

Like an ice age radiator, heat from volcanoes helped Antarctica’s plants and bugs survive Earth’s glacial periods, scientists think based on the result of a new study: here.

Ancient Antarctic Atmosphere Dated Via Krypton | Video here.

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