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Most Arctic Animals should deal with Climate Change just fine

From the Smithsonian.com — December 21, 2012

In a new study by Anouschka HofRoland Jansson and Christer Nilsson, all at Umeå University in Sweden, the trio of scientists found that, in most cases, global warming will actually give a boost to Arctic and subarctic life. Looking at 61 terrestrial mammal species that currently inhabit high-latitude Europe the scientists found that, under climate conditions forecast for the year 2080, the majority of the species will see their ranges expand. They found that warming will actually bring in more species from further south, increasing biodiversity in the region. And, even in their worst-case scenario, they expect at most one species to go extinct: the Arctic fox. But, they suspect that this worst-case scenario is just that, a nightmare scenario unlikely to unfold. Hof and co.:

Our results indicate that, irrespective of the scenario, most species (43 out of 61) will expand and shift their ranges, mostly in a north-easterly direction, in response to expected climate change if we assume that species are able to colonize all areas that become climatically suitable. …We further predict that, irrespective of the scenario, the climate in (sub)arctic Europe will become suitable to ten more mammalian species. …Thus, mammalian species richness in (sub)arctic Europe is likely to increase substantially when full dispersal ability is assumed.

The reason they expect global warming to benefit Arctic mammals rather than hinder them, they say, is that most high-latitude species are generalists: they’re used to having to cope with a wide range of climatic conditions and aren’t too dependent on any one feature of the ecosystem. Think of the North American beaver, a hardy creature, compared to, say, koalas, who wouldn’t make it far without their eucalyptus trees. The specialists like the Arctic fox, the Norway lemming, or the wolverine, they say, may not do so well. But they also don’t expect them to go extinct.

(To read full article, click here)

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