Prehistoric turtles and climate change


This March 2014 video is called Global Warming 56 Million Years Ago: What it Means for Us .

From the University of Florida in the USA:

Tropical turtle discovery in Wyoming provides climate-change clues

Published: February 23 2015

Tropical turtle fossils discovered in Wyoming by University of Florida scientists reveal that when the earth got warmer, prehistoric turtles headed north. But if today’s turtles try the same technique to cope with warming habitats, they might run into trouble.

While the fossil turtle and its kin could move northward with higher temperatures, human pressures and habitat loss could prevent a modern-day migration, leading to the extinction of some modern species.

The newly discovered genus and species, Gomphochelys (pronounced gom-fo-keel-eez) nanus, provides a clue to how animals might respond to future climate change, said Jason Bourque, a paleontologist at the Florida Museum of Natural History at UF and the lead author of the study, which appears online this week in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology</em>.

The wayfaring turtle was among the species that researchers believe migrated 500-600 miles north 56 million years ago, during a temperature peak known as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum. Lasting about 200,000 years, the temperature peak resulted in significant movement and diversification of plants and animals.

“We knew that some plants and lizards migrated north when the climate warmed, but this is the first evidence that turtles did the same,” Bourque said. “If global warming continues on its current track, some turtles could once again migrate northward, while others would need to adapt to warmer temperatures or go extinct.”

The new turtle is an ancestor of the endangered Central American river turtle and other warm-adapted turtles in Belize, Guatemala and southern Mexico. These modern turtles, however, could face significant roadblocks on a journey north, since much of the natural habitat of these species is in jeopardy, said co-author Jonathan Bloch, a Florida Museum curator of vertebrate paleontology.

“If you look at the waterways that turtles would have to use to get from one place to another, it might not be as easy as it once was,” Bloch said. “Even if the natural response of turtles is to disperse northward, they have fewer places to go and fewer routes available.”

To put the new turtle in evolutionary context, the researchers examined hundreds of specimens from museum collections around the country, including turtles collected during the 1800s housed at the Smithsonian Institution. Co-author Patricia Holroyd, a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of California, Berkeley, said the fossil history of the modern relatives of the new species shows they could be much more wide-ranging, if it were not for their restricted habitats.

The Central American river turtle is one of the most endangered turtles in the world, threatened by habitat loss and its exploitation as a human food source, Holroyd said.

“This is an example of a turtle that could expand its range and probably would with additional warming, but — and that’s a big but — that’s only going to happen if there are still habitats for it,” she said.

Spectacled warblers and global warming


This is a spectacled warbler video from Spain.

From Bird Study journal:

Is the Spectacled Warbler Sylvia conspicillata expanding northward because of climate warming?

Giacomo Assandria & Michelangelo Morganti

Published online: 16 Dec 2014

Abstract

The Spectacled Warbler shows a strictly Mediterranean distribution which is expected to expand northward in response to climate warming. To test this hypothesis, we defined the regular distribution of the species based on the literature and we tested whether: (1) spring temperatures in this area significantly increased between 1967 and 2010; (2) breeding attempts north of the regular range occurred progressively at northern latitudes.

Both of these hypotheses were confirmed, supporting the hypothesis that the species is expanding northward because of climate warming.

Whales against climate change


This video says about itself:

How Whales Change Climate

30 November 2014

This video was produced as a gift to humanity by Sustainable Human (sustainablehuman.me). Visit us to find out how you can support and create videos like How Whales Change Climate in collaboration with a global team of volunteers. Together, we can change the story of the world.

Visit the official landing page for more information on this incredible story: sustainablehuman.me/how-whales-change-cl­imate.

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” – John Muir

When whales were at their historic populations, before their numbers were reduced, it seems that whales might have been responsible for removing tens of millions of tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere every year. Whales change the climate. The return of the great whales, if they are allowed to recover, could be seen as a benign form of geo-engineering. It could undo some of the damage we have done, both to the living systems of the sea, and to the atmosphere.

From The Dodo about this:

Saving Whales Could Be The Secret Solution To Potential Climate Disasters

By Melissa Cronin

December 12, 2014

Topping out at some 200 tons, whales are the kings of the sea. But their impact on the ocean — and even the world’s climate — is even larger.

For a long time, the prevailing theory was that because whales eat fish and krill, they are in competition with humans for these resources. In fact, just the opposite is true: whales are the great stabilizers of the ocean.

A stunning video produced by Sustainable Human and narrated by British writer George Monbiot shows just how this process works — and how increasing whale populations can change the world around them.

As Monbiot says in the video, the effect that whales have on the oceans — and on the entire atmosphere — is so powerful that it could even mitigate some of the effects of climate change. By releasing nutrients in their fecal plumes to fertilize plankton and by mixing up the water column to allow plankton to reach the photic zone, whales create what’s called a “trophic cascade” throughout the entire ocean ecosystem.

“The return of the great whales, if they’re allowed to recover, could be seen as a benign form of geoengineering. It could undo some of the damage we’ve done, both to the living systems of the sea, and to the atmosphere.

Monbiot produced a similar video last February, called “How Wolves Change Rivers”.

Inuit of northern Greenland and global warming


This video says about itself:

Living with the Inugguit

In 2010, Dr Stephen Leonard embarked on a year-long trip to live with the Inugguit of north-west Greenland, the northernmost settled people on Earth. His aim was to record the language, stories and songs of these communities. The traditional life of the community and its future is potentially threatened by a number of factors, one of which is climate change. Dr Leonard lived as a member of those communities, travelled on hunts, and recorded and filmed as he went. Here he talks about some of his experiences and reflects on a year spent in the midst of a fading culture.

By Gwyn Griffiths in Britain:

Book review: The Polar North

Monday 17th November 2014

A new book on the Inugguit people, who are struggling to survive in the face of environmental catastrophe, is a warning to us all, says GWYN GRIFFITHS

The Polar North
by Stephen Pax Leonard
(Francis Boutle Publishers, £20)

THE POLAR North is a remarkable story of tiny Inugguit communities with a culture and a language spoken by less than 1,000 people struggling to survive in the hostile environment of west Greenland and in a world that is changing culturally and environmentally.

The book’s two main concerns are the effects of global warming and globalisation on a precarious way of life and it is no small feat of endurance that Stephen Pax Leonard was able to survive the harsh environment and be accepted by a close-knit, often claustrophobic, society for a whole year during his research.

The immediacy of the writing makes for a gripping narrative and although Leonard at times hints at depression in the dark period of the year as well as discomfort during that of 24-hour daylight, he does not dwell on it. What he has produced is a scrupulously honest but hugely sympathetic view of these communities.

The book has stark warnings, primarily of climate change. Since the early 1990s it has not been possible to travel by dog sledge to Canada because the Smith Sound is now partly open all year round.

In January 2011, the sun rose two days earlier than normal over Ilulissat and the best explanation for this is a shocking one. The ice cap is melting, lowering the horizon.

As the sea ice, fundamental to the Inugguit way of life, contracts so does the culture. The transmission of stories, through which vital survival information was transferred, is dying out and the young people of north-west Greenland have only a fraction of the knowledge of the old hunters.

Empty minds become glued to Danish children’s television and violent video games. Alcohol abuse and suicide are major social problems.

The passing of a language and culture of fewer than 1,000 speakers may be irrelevant to many but if the polar Inugguit are the canary in our cultural coal mine, then such a loss may have more relevance than we realise.

There is never any opposition to biodiversity but language activists, linguists and anthropologists are constantly being asked to defend linguistic and cultural diversity.

Fifty per cent of the world’s languages will not exist by the end of this century and we are on the road to the fastest rate of linguistic and cultural destruction in history, driven by the forces of globalisation and consumerism.

The book examines with fascinating detail the links between language and the environment, along with the subtleties and nuance of Inugguit communication.

An excellent introduction to the subject and, in providing a wider context of concern, an essential read.

Will little penguins survive climate change?


This video from Australia is called Little Penguins Return to the Open Ocean.

From Wildlife Extra:

Penguins‘ personalities could help them cope with climate change

According to a new study, the individual personalities of birds could be one of the key factors that improve its chances of coping with environmental stressors, especially in times of rapid weather changes due to climate change.

John Cockrem from the Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedial Sciences at Massey University in New Zealand was behind the study. He studied differences in levels of the stress hormone corticosterone in Little Penguins when they were exposed to stressful stimulus. He found that there was ‘considerable individual variation in corticosterone responses’.

“Corticosterone responses and behavioural responses to environmental stimuli are together determined by individual characteristics called personality,” Cockrem explains. “Birds with low corticosterone responses and proactive personalities are likely to be more successful (have greater fitness) in constant or predictable conditions, whilst birds with reactive personalities and high corticosterone responses will be more successful in changing or unpredictable conditions.”

Birds are thought to be particularly at risk from the effects of climate change, and these findings could be helpful in predicting the adaptability of species of birds as they face a ‘new normal’.

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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