9 Ways Climate Change Has Animals Running (Flying and Swimming) for Their Lives

5. Snails and Sea Stars Slowly Shift North

Sea star photo by Ed Bierman via Flickr.

Climate change has even invertebrates looking for new homes. In California's Monterey Bay, a comparison of the ranges of species such as limpets, snails, and sea stars in the period between 1931 to 1933 and 1993 to 1994 showed that they had shifted northward as ocean and air temperatures increased. The distribution of 20 percent of 40 mollusk species in a German national park has also been seen to have changed in response to global warming.

6. Migratory Birds Wintering in Alaska

Pacific brant in Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. USFWS photo by Tim Bowman.

As temperatures warm in the North Pacific and the Bering Sea, nearly one-third of Pacific brants are staying put throughout the winter in sub-Arctic areas. The vast majority of these small sea geese used to migrate south 3,000 miles to Mexico. Fewer favorable south-blowing winds and an increased winter food supply in Alaska are also thought to be contributing to the change in behavior.

7. Pikas Head For the Hills

American pika photo by John J. Mosesso / life.nbii.gov.

A relative of the rabbit and hare, the American pika has been retreating higher and higher into the mountains in search of cooler temperatures in Glacier National Park and other western ranges, leaving the small animals isolated and vulnerable. Though pikas were lowland dwellers during the last ice age, they are now quickly disappearing from areas below 7,000 feet in elevation.

8. Blue Whales are Back in Canada and Alaska

Blue-whale tail photo by Seabass London via Flickr. Blue whales are being seen in the northern Pacific waters off Canada and Alaska, areas they were hunted out of in the mid-1960s. Some evidence shows that they have been migrating up from California as climate change reduces the amount of krill available for them to eat in the lower latitudes.

9. Jellyfish Invade Coastal Waters

Jellyfish photo by Stuart Chalmers via Flickr.

Thousands of bathers in the Mediterranean were stung by jellyfish in the summer of 2006 as hot, dry weather brought swarms of the creatures closer to the shore. "Coastal waters were warmer than usual, because of the hot weather, and saltier than usual because of low river flows," reported the BBC, noting that this meant "the offshore waters which jellyfish usually inhabit were being washed closer to the coast."

More on Global Warming, Animals, and Migration
Weird Ways Global Warming is Changing Animal Populations
Should Humans Assist Animals Migrate So Climate Change Doesn't Kill Them?
Moving Up: Climate Change Forces Species to Higher Elevations
Climate Change Could Snuff Out 30% of World's Land-Bird Species
Should We Help Endangered Species Move?
Providing a Means of Escape for Wildlife

Tags: Alaska | Animals | Birds | Global Climate Change | Global Warming Effects | Insects | United States