Marmots Benefit from Climate Change?

In the spirit of discussing the effects of climate change, I thought it only appropriate to mention the findings of a recent article by Ozgul et al., published in Nature. The findings of this particular study point to global warming offering a distinct advantage for yellow-bellied marmots (Marmota flaviventis) whose populations have been increasing over the last 10 years. Climate change has resulted in an earlier arousal from hibernation and animals that are giving birth earlier in than previous years, which has promoted larger body masses prior to entering hibernation. This increase in body mass offers the animals more fat reserves to use for fuel during hibernation. The authors also linked a heavier body mass with increased survival rates of adults and higher chances of females reproducing in later years. All of these effects have led to the recent population growth (in more than one sense) of marmots. (Ozgul et al., Nature Vol 466, 22 July 2010)

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The title should add the words "so far" at the end. Even more climate change and the marmots could find the plant species they rely on disappearing, and moving uphill necessarily means a reduction in habitat size.

Populations isolated on mountain ranges towards the southern end of their range, such as in the Southern Rockies and Black Hills, are indeed threatened by AGW.

By darwinsdog (not verified) on 21 Sep 2010 #permalink