Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Climate change is making our environment 'bluer'

Date:
April 6, 2011
Source:
Wiley-Blackwell
Summary:
The "color" of our environment is becoming "bluer," a change that could have important implications for animals' risk of becoming extinct, ecologists have found. In a major study, researchers examined how quickly or slowly animal populations and their environment change over time, something ecologists describe using "spectral color."

The "colour" of our environment is becoming "bluer," a change that could have important implications for animals' risk of becoming extinct, ecologists have found. In a major study involving thousands of data points and published recently in the British Ecological Society's Journal of Animal Ecology, researchers examined how quickly or slowly animal populations and their environment change over time, something ecologists describe using "spectral colour."

Ecologists have investigated the link between fluctuations in the environment and those of animal populations for the past 30 years. They describe fluctuations as a colour spectrum, where red signifies an environment or population that fluctuates more slowly over time (such as ocean temperature) and blue signifies more rapid fluctuations (such as changes in air temperature).

Existing models and theories suggest that the spectral colour of the environment should affect the spectral colour of animal populations. Now for the first time ecologists have assembled field data to confirm the theory.

Bernardo Garcia-Carreras and Dr Daniel Reuman of Imperial College London examined three large sets of data. They used the Global Population Dynamics Database, from which they extracted data on changes in population for 147 species of bird, mammal, insect, fish and crustacean over the past 30 years, and two sets of temperature data from the Climatic Research Unit and the Global Historical Climatology Network. The latter includes data collected from weather stations worldwide throughout the twentieth century.

The study not only confirmed that the colour of changes in the environment map onto the colour of changes in animal populations, but found that our environment is becoming "bluer," in other words fluctuating more rapidly over time.

According to Dr Reuman: "We showed using field data for the first time that the colour of changes in the environment maps onto the colour of changes in populations: redder environments mean redder populations, and bluer environments mean bluer populations. We also found that the colour of the environment is changing -- becoming bluer -- apparently due to climate change."

"The colour change refers to the change in 'spectral colour' but this does not mean that red means warmer temperatures. Spectral colour tells us how quickly or slowly temperature is oscillating over time. If the oscillations are comparatively slow, then we say that temperature has a 'red' spectrum, and if the changes are quick, then temperature is said to be 'blue'. When we talk of temperature becoming 'bluer', we mean the oscillations in temperature are becoming faster over time," explains Garcia-Carreras.

The results are important because previous studies show that the spectral colour of a population affects its extinction risk. Some simple models tell us that bluer populations -- those that fluctuate more rapidly over time -- are at less risk of extinction. This is because adverse conditions are more likely to be followed by better conditions when the environment is fluctuating more rapidly.

According to Dr Reuman: "Since it was previously known that the colour of changes in populations is related to extinction risk of the populations, our results show a way that climate change should impact the extinction risk of populations by affecting the colour of populations."

While the study seems to provide some good news for species facing extinction, the researchers warn that this is offset by other pressures. "This apparent good news is tempered by the fact that habitat loss, overexploitation and other factors are likely more important drivers of extinction risk than the colour of temperature fluctuations," Dr Reuman says.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wiley-Blackwell. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Bernardo Garcνa-Carreras, Daniel C. Reuman. An empirical link between the spectral colour of climate and the spectral colour of field populations in the context of climate change. Journal of Animal Ecology, 2011; DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2656.2011.01833.x

Cite This Page:

Wiley-Blackwell. "Climate change is making our environment 'bluer'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 April 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110405194057.htm>.
Wiley-Blackwell. (2011, April 6). Climate change is making our environment 'bluer'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110405194057.htm
Wiley-Blackwell. "Climate change is making our environment 'bluer'." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110405194057.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

California University Designs Sustainable Winery

California University Designs Sustainable Winery

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 27, 2014) — Amid California's worst drought in decades, scientists at UC Davis design a sustainable winery that includes a water recycling system. Vanessa Johnston reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Argentina Worries Over Decline of Soybean Prices

Argentina Worries Over Decline of Soybean Prices

AFP (Sep. 27, 2014) — The drop in price of soy on the international market is a cause for concern in Argentina, as soybean exports are a major source of income for Latin America's third largest economy. Duration: 01:10 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mama Bear, Cubs Hang out in California Backyard

Mama Bear, Cubs Hang out in California Backyard

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 27, 2014) — A mama bear and her two cubs climb trees, wrestle and take naps in the backyard of a Monrovia, California home. Vanessa Johnston reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Crazy' Climate Forces Colombian Farmers to Adapt

'Crazy' Climate Forces Colombian Farmers to Adapt

AFP (Sep. 26, 2014) — Once upon a time, farming was a blissfully low-tech business on Colombia's northern plains. Duration: 02:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins