Climate Change Favoring, Or Causing, Bizzare Wildlife Mutations?

blond tailed squirrel photo
Tighe's blog has this post of a blonde-tailed squirrel.

This photo could be a portent of what global warming might bring, as squirrel's lighter tail will help him survive by not absorbing as much of the sun's heat.

How many other weird wildlife mutations have we seen which might allow adaption to a changing climate? Alternatively, might disabling mutations be brought about in part by climate change?Scientists working for the US Geological Survey explain that this mutated duckling is a result of irrigation return flows which contain toxic levels of selenium.

mutatant duckling photo
Yucky ducky found in Area S-9.

Like a game of '6 degrees of Kevin Bacon' it is easy to link yucky ducky to climate change. More weather extremes leads to increasingly severe drought, which results in more groundwater withdrawl for irrigation and bingo -> more yucky duckies. Anyone with imagination can do it.

Now that I have your attention with something cute, something ugly, and an absurd speculation or two, can we now look at something important? Something that really does matter for the wildlife?

The US Department of Interior sees that climate change is altering the very concept of wildlife conservation.

"For 100 years conservation has been based on lines on a map, and most conservation agencies and organizations are trained to work within the fence line," said Larry Selzer, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Conservation Fund. "Climate change is forcing us to acknowledge that everything of importance is happening outside the fence line. The migration of habitat and species is occurring at a pace and scale that doesn't fit well within our current political instruments--whether it's regulation or policy. We will have to be open to new instruments."
As a result the US Fish & Wildlife Service has an action plan which deserves your attention. [pdf file]

Tags: Fish


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