I am so excited to share today’s blog post which is in collaboration with the Climate Change Collective! The Climate Change Collective is a collaboration put together by Michelle from Boomer Eco Crusader and Jamie from Jamie Ad Stories. They came up with the idea and invited other bloggers to share posts on different parts of climate change. Each month, a different blogger writes their post. For my post, I am sharing how climate change impacts animals.
As you can probably tell through my blog posts, I love animals and I am so passionate about conservation. I have been passionate about animals for as long as I can remember. I just think it’s so unfair that animals are forced to adapt, or potentially not survive because of the actions caused by humans. Animals were the reason I wanted to study Environmental Science at A-level and now at University. And in September 2023, I am going to be studying for a master’s in ecology/conservation which I am so excited about!
(Featured photo by Joe deSousa on Unsplash)
Related post: 5 significant sustainable lifestyle changes to make
How climate changes impacts animals
Temperature rise has so many awful impacts on animals because each species have a specific range of tolerance. If their habitat no longer has those qualities, then the animal will have to move or will die out. This can be very hard because not all ecosystems change temperatures at the same time. If one species moves to another ecosystem, its new ecosystem might not have food or shelter. This can really unbalance the ecosystem because a stable ecosystem has competition for resources and predators. One species could become overpopulated, which affects the rest of the ecosystem.
Due to the rising temperatures, the places which already have natural disasters are likely to be stronger and more frequent. Places that don’t usually have them will start to get them as well. Not only does this have an impact on people, but also animals as they aren’t adapted to survive or cope in natural disasters. There have been a lot of wildfires lately, which have had a huge impact on animals. The trees are burnt down, and it spreads so fast that they have no time to migrate. And like with anyone, extremes result in a lot of stress which could lead to early mortality.
Sea temperature change
Sea temperatures have similar effects as I mentioned earlier with habitat changes. The ocean is still a bit of an unknown, with only a small percentage that has been discovered. We need to conserve it because there are so many possibilities for new medicines! Coral reefs are affected by the temperatures rising as they become bleached. This, in turn, affects lots of other species because they are so heavily relied on.
Phenology is the timings of animal and plant yearly cycles. As the climate changes, these timings change too. For example, birds are starting to breed earlier because the peak insect abundance is happening sooner. This puts added pressure on birds to mate earlier than normal.
Animals rely on environmental cues, specifically for timing and migration navigation. Some animals are staying in one place instead of migrating because the temperature is warmer all year round. Migrating has lots of benefits, the main one is that they are less at risk of catching infections and diseases. Since they don’t stay in one place for too long, they are less likely to be contaminated. For example, there has been a reduction in the amount of Monarch butterflies migrating. Studies have shown that there are more butterflies with an infection that don’t migrate than ones that do.
Plants are flowering sooner as the temperature is warmer, has anyone else noticed flowers blossoming now? I’ve seen some and it’s quite worrying considering we are going into winter!
Continue reading: How climate change impacts animals
Sea level rise
Sea level rise is causing countries and land to become submerged. Obviously, countries that are submerged, are a huge issue for humans with thousands of people being displaced, especially with the rising population. There are major consequences for animals who nest on beaches, such as turtles and seals. If beaches disappear, there won’t be anywhere for them to reproduce which is incredibly worrying!
Ice caps and glaciers melting
Ice caps melting have a lot of devastating effects. Firstly, animals that live in the poles and directly on ice hugely suffer. They have a smaller habitat, and can’t just move somewhere else if there’s no ice left. Imagine if the ice cracked and created such a gap that a polar bear couldn’t go back to its family – so heartbreaking!
Secondly, as the ice melts the albedo decreases which is bad because less sunlight is reflected back into space. As the ice caps and glaciers melt, there are more dark surfaces which means that more sunlight is absorbed, and less is reflected. This is like a neverending cycle because the climate becomes warmer as the albedo decreases. White walls are common in hotter countries because they reflect more sunlight back into space and keep the surrounding area cooler.
A lot of animals are already on the IUCN red list and are endangered. With all of these awful impacts on wildlife, these are likely to increase and for extinctions to occur.
A few species affected by climate change
I can’t write all of the species that are affected by climate change, or we would be here all day! But I am going to share a few that I think are very interesting, and maybe ones you aren’t aware of.
Sea turtles are affected by terrestrial and aquatic temperature rise. This is because the sex of the sea turtle is to do with the beach temperature during egg incubation. When sea turtles lay their eggs, the gender is determined by the temperature of the sand. The lower-temperature eggs will become males, and the higher temperatures are females. With the rising temperatures, more females are expected to be born which creates an unbalanced population and reduced genetic diversity.
Snowshoe hares are generally found in mountain ranges with boreal forests. They have an adaption which causes their fur to change to white when there is snow around. Their fur coat changes to brown when the snow melts. Climate change will affect this species of hare because snow is likely to melt earlier. This leaves them in stark contrast to their surroundings which makes them very vulnerable to predation. A reduction in the snowshoe hare will have consequences for other species that rely on them, such as lynx.
Atlantic cod have been the source of overfishing for decades, especially juveniles. This has caused them to be unable to reproduce enough numbers in some places. But now climate change will impact them as well. As the ocean temperatures rise, their source of zooplankton reduces leading which puts their development at risk. This means they have less energy to swim to find new food, avoid predators and reproduce. Furthermore, warmer seas can lead to young fish going into deeper seas too soon, which increases their predation risk.
Puffins are such beautiful birds that we are lucky to see in the UK when they migrate here! But in recent years, fewer birds have been migrating here. Being a bird that relies on fish is tough already due to overfishing. Increasing temperatures mean that the fish they prey on, e.g. Sandeel, are moving further away. This results in puffins having fewer fish to find, which in turn impacts the number of birds suitable for reproduction.
A lemming is a small Arctic rodent species that live in the tundra biome. Like the Snowshoe hare, lemmings are white during the winter so they camouflage well with their surroundings. They rely on snow for nests which they make on the surface or under the snow. This protects them from their long list of predators, such as foxes and owls. With climate change reducing snow cover, lemmings will be at risk of survival. In turn, their predators will also be at risk.
Other blog posts in the Climate Change Collective:
- Welcome to the Climate Change Collective by Michelle
- Understanding how climate action redefines our future by Molly
- Travel with climate change by Jamie
I hope this blog post has opened your eyes to some of the devastating ways climate change impacts animals. I also hope this wasn’t too sad, I will be posting a blog post on positive eco-related news soon, so stay tuned!
Best wishes, Cx
Thank you for sharing lots of information regarding species which are affected by climate change. With permafrost melting and releasing more carbon, things are really bad.
It is sad that snowshoe hares are being caught out by early snow melts. I really hope we can start to find ways to sort this mess out soon. Wonderful blog post!
Me too, thank you!
Oh Caroline. What a wonderful post! I am in awe of you for doing a masters in ecology/conservation. You will change the world!
I am always saddened by the impact of our human activity on the animal world. They are innocent victims of our greed and overconsumption. I see examples in our own neighbourhood, seeing foxes and coyotes roaming around. Something I never saw before but all the development has forced them into the city.
Thanks again for being part of our collective.
Thank you, Michelle! I totally agree, it’s so heartbreaking 🙁
Mind Beauty Simplicity says
this post was very informative! Thanks for sharing this information and spreading the word about climate change and the effects on the wildlife. Puffins are so cute!!
Thank you B x
Molly | Transatlantic Notes says
It’s incredible how much impact on nature is happening right now and it’s just not widely shared in media news. This should be mentioned by all major news as it puts climate change front and centre. This was a fantastic post that breaks down how urgently we (governments and world leaders) need to act. It is heartbreaking to realize so much is changing, and while some things may be able to adapt, most will not and we stand to lose so many vital animals and plants. Thanks for this amazing post and best of luck doing your masters!
I know, I wish there was a climate change section in newspapers!
When the words climate change and said or the term is thrown around it is not really shared with what that actually means for things, such as animals. I haven’t really seen anything but this post is so helpful. You have really highlighted the issues it causes and I found it useful and I definitely have a better understanding now. Thank you for sharing Caroline.
Totally agree, thank you x
This is such an informative post. I remember learning about climate change in college, many years ago, and there is so much to do still.
I agree :/
Thank you for the informative post. I’m glad that you wrote this post to spread awareness. While Climate Change is forever an important topic is good to talk about the effect and the potential effect of not taking action.
Definitely, thank you x
Thrift Plan Enjoy says
Such an interesting post. I know climate change is having a negative impact, but actually reading it is shocking!
I know 🙁
Her Digital Coffee says
Very informative post Caroline! It’s heartbreaking how climate change is affecting these beautiful animals. Thanks for using your platform to educate and spread awareness.
Thank you x
Love this post, Caroline! It’s really interesting to learn about the specific animals. I had not idea about turtles and the temperature of the soil. That’s really serious as temps rise. I feel like in our area this year we really felt the changing timing of seasons. Everything just has felt off this year and I’m sure that will continue. Thanks for sharing all of this info! It really is fascinating.
I totally feel that too x
Will McMillan says
Thank you for describing many different ways that climate change is impacting all of us here on planet earth, It is very difficult — and very important — to read about the myriad of challenges/catastrophes already underway. Deep breath in. Deep breath out.