Climate Trivia: Which Animals Are Most Sensitive to Climate Change?

Climate change means geographic changes in the distribution of certain temperature and moisture conditions. Because most species are optimized to live within specific climate conditions, a mobile species will try to track these conditions as they expand, contract or shift to the north/south or uphill/ downhill. Less mobile species may adjust their life cycles or lifestyles to the new local climate, changing the timing of reproduction, migration, molting or feeding. Some animals are considered more sensitive to climate change than others.

Trivia Question: All other things being equal, what type of animal is likely the most sensitive to climate change?

a.    Mammals
b.    Reptiles
c.    Birds
d.    Amphibians

The correct answer is d. Data from across the world shows that amphibian movements and life cycle shifts track changes in local climate conditions more closely than other types of animals. Unlike many other animals, amphibians are dependent on water for reproduction and changes in water availability can have profound consequences. Also, amphibians can only be active when the air or water temperature exceeds a certain threshold, unlike birds and mammals that regulate their temperature internally.

Seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall

Source: Todd, BD et al. “Climate Change correlates with rapid delays and advancements in reproductive timing in an amphibian community.” Proceedings of the Royal Society, B 278 (2011): 2191-2197.

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