Honey, I shrunk the copepods

From the Queen Mary, University of London , there was shrinkage, of plankton no less. I’m sure it’s easy to extrapolate that right up to the top of the food chain.

Planktonic copepod Image: Wikipedia

How global warming could cause animals to shrink

The way in which global warming causes many of the world’s organisms to shrink has been revealed by new research from Queen Mary, University of London.

Almost all cold-blooded organisms are affected by a phenomenon known as the ‘temperature-size rule’, which describes how individuals of the same species reach a smaller adult size when reared at warmer temperatures. But until now, scientists have not fully understood how these size changes take place.

Writing in the journal The American Naturalist, Dr Andrew Hirst and colleagues from Queen Mary’s School of Biological and Chemical Sciences explore this unusual shrinking effect in more detail, and show conclusively how it occurs.

Funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, the study was carried out using data on marine planktonic copepods. These tiny crustaceans are the main animal plankton in the world’s oceans and are important grazers of smaller plankton and a food source for larger fish, birds and marine mammals.

By gathering together more than 40 years of research studying the effect of temperature on these organisms, their results show that growth rate (how fast mass is accumulated) and development rate (how fast an individual passes through its life stages) are consistently decoupled in a range of species, with development being more sensitive to temperature than growth.

Dr Hirst explains: “We’ve shown that growth and development increase at different rates as temperatures warm. The consequences are that at warmer temperatures a species grows faster but matures even faster still, resulting in them achieving a smaller adult size.

“Decoupling of these rates could have important consequences for individual species and ecosystems,” he added.

The team’s findings suggest that rates fundamental to all organisms (such as mortality, reproduction and feeding), may not change in synch with one another in a warming world. This could have profound implications for understanding how organisms work, and impact on entire food webs and the world’s ecosystems.

Although the team’s findings disagree with earlier assertions of many macro-ecologists, they clearly explain the smaller sizes associated with the ‘temperature-size rule’. They hope their work will help those investigating the potential impacts of climate change on the natural world.

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106 thoughts on “Honey, I shrunk the copepods

  1. Now that’s bad science. The largest creatures in the world have mostly been from warmer climates.

  2. Am I missing something here? The gist of the press release seems to clearly imply smaller “ultimate” size, but the research only supports a smaller size at maturity (since the animals reach maturity more quickly). I wouldn’t know a copepod from a cephalopod . . . or a podiatrist, for that matter . . . but do plankton really stop growing when they reach maturity? Somehow, I doubt it. It also seems to me that maturing more quickly would have a positive impact on biomass by increasing the rate at which the population reproduces.

  3. Well, in that case, I guess what they are trying to warn us about, is that all these animals will in fact grow, as the temperature drops. Right?

    And if tons upon tons ( Much hicher tonnage than humanity, by the way) of these small creatures grows, wouldnt that in fact make the sealevel rise? As the temerature drops, I mean?

    Good grief, we might end up with the pacific as just one big organic slurry…..

    But wait, there is one place they would grow. In Trenberth’s Hidden Heat Belt at the bottom.
    Hmmm, will be difficult to model all this.

  4. I simply cannot believe the depths to which upside-down science has taken the reasoning faculties of some people. How global warming “could” cause things to shrink? It “could” cause pigs to fly. It “could” do any number of things. BUT FIRST OF ALL IT HAS TO HAPPEN IN MEASURABLE AND SIGNIFICANT AMOUNTS. Blimey these people are obsessed. Off all the things in nature they could research, they have to remind us that some sea bug might shrink by a nanometer or so because of something that “could” happen. What, pray tell, does science do about things that are “actually happening”? I guess that’s not interesting enough.

  5. Did they look at the other end of the scale?
    I would have thought when the temperature really drops that the lack of food would cause even smaller & weaker adults.

  6. Great fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite ‘em,
    And little fleas have lesser fleas, and so ad infinitum.
    And the great fleas themselves, in turn, have greater fleas to go on;
    While these again have greater still, and greater still, and so on.

    Augustus De Morgan; A Budget of Paradoxes

    So all we need to do is just move along one digit. And we all thought it was turtles all the way down!

  7. Yes, but size is not everything. What about the total mass. If development is faster, then will there not be more of them? If total nutritional mass, if I may invent a new term, does not change, there will be just as much food for animals higher up in the food chain.

  8. They can show this for a 1 degree C change? A change far smaller than day/night or summer/winter changes? 10-4.

    Also, if dinosaurs were cold-blooded, why were they so big?

  9. Just because you observe different outcomes in response to environmental changes, it doesn’t mean the system is broken. Species have to deal with changing conditions all the time. Usually, where conditions are more favorable, more progeny are produced. Populations shift. How many samples were taken? Where? (Did they see any dead polar bears? ;->)

    By studying the organisms further, perhaps we would discover the smaller size is a natural adaptation to enhance survival. Perhaps it helps them avoid a new predator. This is one species (or maybe a set of related species). Claiming we now understand the response of a few organisms to environmental change is silly. Extrapolating their conclusion to the whole ocean is ridiculous.

    Naturally, they need more money to continue this important research….

  10. It’s not in the Sep edition of American Naturalist, or their list of press releases. Making announcements without the data to back it up does not reflect well on QM.

    From my memory of population dynamics (mathematical; Lotka–Volterra, BIDE etc.), earlier maturity implies an increase in population size. So more of them, albeit smaller.

  11. So how does this new natural law “Hotter is smaller” jive with dinosaurs???

    During the Cretaceous oceans were an average of 13 degrees centigrade and new finding seem to indicate a fall to as low as four degrees is what killed off the large dinosaurs.

    “…Dr Price, along with Dr Elizabeth Nunn, of Johannes Gutenburg Universitat in Mainz, Germany, first visited Svalbard in 2005 to collect fossils and samples, in an area famed for a number of paleontological discoveries, including giant marine reptiles such as pliosaurs and icthyosaurs.

    The samples were analysed back in Plymouth and prompted return trips to the area to gather more evidence.

    “The flourishing of the dinosaurs and a range of other data indicates that the Cretaceous period was considerably warmer and boasted a high degree of CO2 in the atmosphere,” said Dr Price.

    “But over a period of a few hundred or a few thousand years, ocean temperatures fell from an average of 13 degrees centigrade to between eight and four degrees…..” http://www.physorg.com/news191527326.html

    Then there is Africa with its very large species of animals.

    Yes I know this is talking about shrinkage within a species but I think they are missing something…. more competition for food perhaps??

  12. Oh yes, tenure and compensation are directly proportional to global warming and inversely proportional to organism size.

  13. So warming makes them mature faster, leading to higher biological productivity. That’s surely a good thing, even Lovelock, Mead and Ehrlich must agree with that. That is, if these tiny crustaceans actually have a way of noticing the 0.8C global average atmospheric temperature rise over the 20th century.

  14. There’s some that figure dinosaurs were warm-blooded. This is talking about cold-blooded animals, hence the probable difference.

  15. I wonder how small the copepods were during all those periods (just during the last 10,000 years) when temperatures were substantially higher than today.

    What about 125,000 years ago during the Eemian?

    How about sometime prior to the current multimillion year long Ice Age?

  16. Perhaps they should repeat the study using horse flies. The mothers here in NC are 747’s compared to the B52’s in New England. The reach over one inch in length routinely.

    Or better yet compare Coakroaches in Calgory Canada to those in Jamaica, after all they are one of the oldest unchanged species around….

  17. “Almost all cold-blooded organisms are affected by a phenomenon known as the ‘temperature-size rule’ …”

    The important words being “Almost all cold-blooded” or so I would assume.

  18. What I get from this is that as the temp rises another o.3C in the next 50 years,climate believers wil lshrink and thus their thieving of money.Plus they should shrink faster then any cepopods,as these guys have bigger brains then QM staff.

  19. Animals like it warm to have sex, especially the female gender. Personal experience only, sample of one, experiment run multiple times. Robust analysis though.

  20. The generalization of plankton seems a bit self-serving. Specific species have adaptations to the local environment. An arctic species is not going to do well in the Indian Ocean, but within the range of their comfort zone a higher temperature is going to increase egg development time / live birth time, and time to maturity. With this in mind wouldn’t the real question be ” Is the food source for these critters adequate to provide for the increase in numbers “. All populations have limiting factors. With these guys I would have to assume heat/ cold/ predation/ food supply. I am not an expert in plankton but I am sure there are some species that have a much greater range of temperature variability. Without reference to any other limiting factor a slight increase in temperature should increase the total biomass of plankton. I don’t see this as a bad thing. Whales get hungry to.

    Jeff

  21. RockyRoad says: @ September 27, 2011 at 10:50 am

    “There’s some that figure dinosaurs were warm-blooded. This is talking about cold-blooded animals, hence the probable difference”

    But that should make it all the worse given transport of heat to the external environment.

    I would hazard a guess at more offspring live causing a decline in the amount of food. All other things being equal food availability will have a major impact on the size of an animal.

    See the increase in height of the Japanese after WWII

    http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/research/takemi/files/RP245.pdf

    http://www.sumitomo.gr.jp/english/discoveries/special/84_01.html

  22. Since the advent of air conditioning Americans have spent much less time in warm air; our ‘personal degree-days’ are much lower than before. And sure enough, we’ve grown fat and immature in the last three decades!

    Maybe this result makes sense after all.

  23. I know a Samoan-College football player. hands so large they have they have their own internal
    organs. I’m, sorry this is a Bravo Sierra study..

  24. Leap of faith: Oceans might be getting warmer (sub-leap: “in a warming world”).
    Leap of faith: This could mean smaller whatsits.
    Leap of faith: This “could have important consequences for individual species and ecosystems”
    Leap of faith: It “could have profound implications for understanding how organisms work, and impact on entire food webs and the world’s ecosystems”

    It could be worse than we may be thinking!

    Scientists no longer have to measure stuff. Just take leaps of faith (and convince the government funding agencies to take them too).

  25. Well now, fish are coldblooded and if I expect to catch a record largemouth bass I better head to Florida or Alabama or other parts south. I won’t break the record in Michigan. Same for catfish – the largest are in Spain, Vietnam, the Congo, etc.

    I’ll have to re-read the article and see what constraints they’ve put on their findings.

  26. Tim Clark says:
    September 27, 2011 at 11:19 am
    “Animals like it warm to have sex, especially the female gender. Personal experience only, sample of one, experiment run multiple times. Robust analysis though.”

    When will you publish?

  27. It’s ‘ALLEGED’ global warming. (After all, that’s what we have to call even the obviously guilty.)
    This Warmista catch-phrase has no scientific meaning except when every temperature in the world rises by exactly the same amount. Worse yet, it is well known there is no global temperature, since the term is just a meaningless, thermodynamically arbitrary statistical calculation done incompetantly over a database rife with inaccuracy and maladjustment.

    There isn’t even a metric for ‘climate change’, one of the most vague and nebulous pseudo-scientific terms ever propounded.

    How much longer do we have to endure these rent-seeking swarms of cargo-cult propagandists with their endlessly repeated mystical chants? They probably need spell-check every time they try to type ‘anthropogenic’, when actually ‘anthropomorphic’ would be more like it, designating the erroneous projection of human qualities, in this case upon ‘the planet’.

  28. So if warming of 0.8 C in a century has such a detrimental de-coupling effect on those copepods, how come they made it through the millions of years when it was much warmer than today?

    Reading such interpretations, i cannot help but wonder if the researchers ever attended just a couple of lectures on geological timescales and evolution. Invertebrates especially have been around for a very long time indeed, surviving climatic upheavals and the effects of plate tectonics.
    So the extreme warming of 0.8 C per century are now totally catastrophic for them? A likely story.

  29. Any hunter knows that game animals become larger as their habitat moves further North! …and for a simple reason: larger mass is required to produce more heat to stay alive in colder temperatures! What a bunch of dumb bunnies! Did one of them ever walk outdoors?

  30. Of course the dinosaurs were warm blooded: a four-chambered fossilized heart and feathers convinced all but the most irrationally precommitted diehards. So were the ancestors of crocodiles. So were the ancestors of all cold blooded critters–most evolution has taken place in a very warm environment. In fact your body temperature approximately preserves that of the primeval ambient in which your physiology evolved. Ectotherms are thermodynamic specialists–they have survived by escaping the high metabolic rat race. The primary, unstable stock from which just about all lineages are derived are the fastest and most ferocious predators with the highest metabolisms, nicely represented by the toothy amphibians of the carboniferous. –AGF

  31. @ Gail Combs
    North of 60 degree, the mosquitoes are like condors (and also keeping biting to about 40F), the massive horseflies affect compasses, and 15 lb lake trout are used as bait.

  32. Now I know why pythons only get to 30 feet long in jungles. It is the heat that has reduced thier size. I wonder if this applies to salt water crocs as well?

  33. “Writing in the journal The American Naturalist, Dr Andrew Hirst and colleagues from Queen Mary’s School of Biological and Chemical Sciences explore this unusual shrinking effect in more detail, and show conclusively how it occurs. ”

    So there is a paper that shows how this occurs? Not a correlation, a mechanism?
    That would be interesting and an important discovery.

    “show conclusively how it occurs” those are serious words used by the best science and the worst charlitans. It should be immediately obvious upon browsing the paper.

  34. Since these pseudoscientists need to publish to keep their gravy trains going, and will write anything, however inane, into which they can insert the magic words “climate change,” “global warming,” “climate disruption,” etc., thus guaranteeing publication, such articles should now be featured under their own literary genres, of which the possibilities are endless.

    It has been rumored by somebody somewhere that manmade global warming may cause breast, testicle, and penis enlargement on unprecedented scales. I know this for a fact, because I started the rumor. The AGW crowd can now use it for future articles, and cite me as a reference.

  35. I guess this work was done in the lab. In the sea, some copepods are known to migrate vertically. At night, they’re in the top layer of the sea; in the daytime, down around about 100m.

    The temperature difference of this daily migration is not insignificant.

    But you can’t blame the authors. Grants may be shackled to work on AGW these days.

  36. Steve says:
    September 27, 2011 at 12:28 pm
    Copepod to lady copepod: “I was in the pool!!!”

    LOL!!!! Awesome Steve.

    My thoughts were… dang, there goes that Medieval and Permiam warm periods again. I knew they would find a way to get rid of them once and for all. That explains why those dinosaurs were so .. wait.. they were large weren’t they? And, they got larger once the CO2 and temperature increased which resulted in more available biomass, right?

  37. >>Funded by the Natural Environment Research Council

    Only funded because they put ‘Global Warming’ in the research application title, and so dully found the appropriate answer.

    .

  38. If only they hadn’t said “How [i]Global[/i] warming …”. It’s a perfectly reasonable piece of research – temperatures go up, copepods get smaller. Nothing whatever to do with anything global, though, they’ll do it in a bucket.

  39. One of these days I’ll get the hang of this bloody HTML!

    [Use angle brackets, not square brackets. ~dbs, mod.]

  40. “We’ve shown that growth and development increase at different rates as temperatures warm. The consequences are that at warmer temperatures a species grows faster but matures even faster still, resulting in them achieving a smaller adult size”
    =====================================================================
    We’ve shown that cooler temperatures slow growth and maturity, putting these species in more danger of extinction….

    They didn’t say it was a bad thing……

    Higher temperatures allow them to recover and replace their numbers faster….resulting in more food/biomass…..

    These guys sound like they are doing rotifer cultures. When you are trying to raise something on rotifers, and your species of rotifer is too big…..you raise the temperature so you get smaller rotifers…..
    …everyone knows that already

  41. Would not warmer temps = more abundant food = faster maturity = greater reproduction of the species…

    be considered a benefit of warming?

  42. Dave Dodd says:
    September 27, 2011 at 11:54 am

    Any hunter knows that game animals become larger as their habitat moves further North! …and for a simple reason: larger mass is required to produce more heat to stay alive in colder temperatures! What a bunch of dumb bunnies! Did one of them ever walk outdoors?
    __________________________________________________________________________

    You are talking about warm blooded animals not cold blooded.

    Also please explain African Elephants…..

  43. Anton says:
    September 27, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    “It has been rumored by somebody somewhere that manmade global warming may cause breast, testicle, and penis enlargement on unprecedented scales. I know this for a fact, because I started the rumor. The AGW crowd can now use it for future articles, and cite me as a reference.”

    Great…so now I’m going to get junk e-mails which say “Satisfy her by enlarging your GLOBAL WARMING. Robust and proven by models. Free trial.”

  44. I thought nutrient content of food had a big role to play in physical size. As farming practices improved, so did human height and capability. I’m thinking if you compare us to ancient Mayans, they topped out at nearly four feet. Guess I need a few million for an archeology project!

  45. In Vitro or In Vivo

    My understanding from this extract is that the good chaps in London, down the road from the Royal Society collated data from our wonderful scientists in the field. This data may have in fact measured how sample mesh behaves with temperature or at which depth various organisms congregate at various temperatures. I am sure they will test their peer reviewed conclusions to eliminate what we know know as “Briffa-Mann-Jones Artifacts’.
    Experience in hatcheries and aquaculture world-wide with growing copepods would no doubt expand on this paper with less influence from unknowns.

  46. I would like to see copepod size distribution in the current environment. There may be something to this (or not). After all, whales prefer polar feeding grounds. On the other hand, as long as there is polar ice, I presume that polar oceans will be cold, even if the global temperature increases.

  47. “Decoupling of these rates could have important consequences”

    So, at our current temperature these rates are coupled at the most ideal relation, but as warming occurs these rates “decouple” (negative sounding term) instead of merely being coupled in a different relation (if ever coupled at all) that’s more efficient for the environment?

    Really? I’m supposed to take this as serious science?

  48. mark wagner says:
    September 27, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    Would not warmer temps = more abundant food = faster maturity = greater reproduction of the species…
    be considered a benefit of warming?
    ===============================================================
    You mean like spring coming sooner, and winter later, giving them a longer growing season.

  49. As reported by Wikipedia: Evolution
    The black-backed jackal is an exceptionally stable and ancient form of canid, with many fossils dating as far back as the Pleistocene epoch.[6] Fossil jackals discovered in the Transvaal cave are roughly the same size as their descendents, though their nasal bones differ in size.[5] Although numerous fossils dating back to 2 million years ago have been found in Kenya, Tanzania, and South Africa,[5] they are entirely absent in Ethiopia, indicating that the species has never expanded past sub-saharan Africa.[7] Mitochondrial DNA analysis’ display a large sequence divergence in black-backed jackals from other jackal species, indicating they diverged 2.3–4.5 million years ago.

    ————————————————————————————————-

    From the Queen Mary, University of London

    How global warming could cause animals to shrink

    ——————————————————————————————

    I note the caveat “could.” The Jackal apparently ignored the temperature for a few million years, or (my caveat) global warming is a recent phenomenon brought about by Almore Gortry and his brethern at the UN/IPCC.

  50. “How global warming could cause animals to shrink”
    There seems to be plenty of evidence that it causes brains to shrink.

  51. It must be cooling around here (UK). I’ve seen an enormous dragonfly in the last few days, much larger than usual for hereabouts.

  52. Loxodonta africana, you are charged that you have wilfully and persistently been of a bodily volume which is contrary to Chapter XVII, section 49a, sub-section iii of the Laws of CAGWaria.
    How do you plead?

  53. In my experience roaming North America, mammals do tend to be bigger in northern (cold) climates, like polar bears and moose. Herps and bugs (with the noteable exception of mosquitos) are smaller in the north.

    Bugs and herps are quite large in southern (warm) climates, like tarantulas and alligators. Mammals tend to be small, like the kit fox and the pronghorn.

    BUT– there’s a whole lot of overlap (coyotes, elk, black bears) and many large animals in the southern areas are simply hunted to extinction or rarity (mountain lions, grizzly bears, wolves, bison). It also seems to apply only to North America, as pointed out numerous times above, and doesn’t hold up very well historically.

    So I can see how people get the impression that warm = small mammals, big bugs and herps. But, as with all things, it’s not nearly that simple once you look past the surface.

  54. So on the one hand, Global Warming causes over-population, but on the other hand, it makes everything smaller, so there’ll be more room.

    See, nature is self-regulating.

  55. I used to raise snakes as a hobby and bred them for various genetic traits as well. Fun animals, snakes. I didn’t do any real measurements on my animals, but they were in a room at 90 degrees Fahrenheit, warmer than the temperature they lived at in the wild in the 80-85 range. My animals tended to be larger than their wild counterparts, but that might be occasioned by the fact they could live much longer. But they wouldn’t be considered smaller by any means.

    There should be independent studies that try to replicate these results and see what they report. My snakes don’t translate to the organisms they studied, but I’d caution them against generalizing across all species.

  56. I didn’t read about the magnitude of the warming.
    Was it a 0.5 or 5.0 degree change in temp to detect their change in growth?

  57. The ‘shrinking with heat’ concept works so well, perhaps we should apply it to dinosaurs, who lived during a global warming event that kept average temperatures 8 to 12C greater than today.

  58. I noticed that when I boil shrimp, they’re smaller coming out of the pot then when they went in. That explains it.

  59. I hope this is true. If it is I think I’ll convert from skeptic/denier to warmist. I’m having a helluva time losing the last ten pounds on my diet. Better get in my SUV and watch the pounds melt away.

  60. Chuck Nolan says:
    September 27, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    I didn’t read about the magnitude of the warming.
    Was it a 0.5 or 5.0 degree change in temp to detect their change in growth?
    ============================================================
    Good point Chuck……..I’ll bet they raised the temp at least 10 degrees
    Rotifers are sized S, SS, and SSS (super small) the temp range to culture from S to SSS is over 20 degrees F.

  61. Now hang on… When we pointed out that the GW would only be 1C in 70 years, they said “Yeah, but animals can’t adapt that fast.” Now they claim they rapidly adapt to temperature changes, and that’s supposed to be bad for what reason exactly? More precisely, what kind of change / non-change would they accept as falsification of the theory that warming is bad for species?

  62. insects are mostly dependent on weather parameters as to when they emerge which then determines adult size later on. Grasshoppers this year are so small as to appear to all be juveniles. Their size can be traced back to a cold spring resulting in late emergence. Their growing season, though warm enough, was not long enough. A cold spring followed by an unseasonally warm summer may result in small insect size, not due to warming, but due to cooling.

  63. Quick point.

    I didn’t read the report, but did the research take place in nature or in a tank?

    For the sake of it, assume that research was done in nature in the northern hemisphere. Samples were taken in the equatorial region and others in the northern region in the summer months. Now, did they consider that daylight hours are longer in the northern regions. Let your own mind decide what effect that a longer daily daylight period would have.

    Is the Queen Mary going to sink?

  64. Artic short compact people and in Africa tall gangly people. is this maybe just cherry picking with only some of the data given. It sounds meaningless with out having numbers for biomass.

  65. I happened to watch a show this evening on Animal Planet about jellyfish. It was a very good show until the last 10 minutes when they had to add what the impacts of global warming ” will be “.
    Seems that the only trick to get hibernating jelly’s to release from the bottom and start making a mess that will end the world is to warm them up.

    Last information I remember seeing is that the oceans have been even more stable then the atmosphere in relation to temperature.

    Is there any freaking way in which to enjoy science without CAGW being the end result? Based on that show in 40 or so years 50% of our diet will be jellyfish protein.

  66. It’s that time of the year again. The open water temperature of the small lakes in my area has dropped below 65F. That’s my minimum temp for open water swimming. At 65F, I can barely regulate and steady down my breathing during the swim. I have no control over shrinkage of the copepods

  67. Pamela Gray says:
    September 27, 2011 at 5:52 pm
    RE: “Small grass hoppers this year”. I had noted this also, this year.

    I live between Fairwood and MapleValley, WA. I have an excellent view of the north face of Mt. Rainier. This year, the north face has never had more than 40% bare rock visible. The majority has remained snow covered, same as last year, unlike the previous 9 years since I have lived here.

    Similarly, my open water swimming this year did not start until late June, when the water temp finally rose to 65F, fully 3 weeks later than ‘normal’ since I have lived here. This has been the only year in my experience in WA that I have had to add heat to the house in 11 months of the year. August 2011 was the only month that I did not have to use supplemental heat (house temp drops below 62F).

    Yes – It is just ‘weather’, but a marked change in the weather, in my experience.

  68. The latest research on dinosaur fossils show that some species were feathered. those feathers were of the downy variety to keep them warm so perhaps some times during the Jurassic and Cretaceous were colder than once thought.

    More Grant Money will consolidate the research.

  69. And there I thought animals’ size is mostly dependent on available energy intake vs. heat loss to the environment.

  70. the cold blooded snakes emerging in my area of Aus this year, that I have seen so far, are damned big! brown at over 7ft, and a tiger at just on 4ft. its been quite cool and very wet so far.
    the frogs havent shut up since january rains, and theyre breeding extremely well so the coldblooded snakes have plenty of tucker, oh and the mouse plague over winter didnt seem to be smaller than usual size meece either.

  71. Smaller copepods having babies, smaller copepods consume less food per copepod, but more copepods. Result should be an increase of copepod gross mass as smaller copepods require less food per day, but since food source is constant, numbers increase to match food source availability.

    Difference in total copepod mass is reduction in consumption need energy divided by average copepod consumption need energy (mass equivalent) times average mass of copepod.

  72. Lots of really funny comments, however this study could be useful, if valid, as it could play into the mystery of Codfish populations, which refuse to obey scientists, and haven’t rebounded despite all the bullying of fishermen by bigshots.

    I distrust a lot of the fisheries “science,” (as WWF and Greenpeace are involved.) The simple fact of the matter is that a single, female codfish lays something like 4 million eggs, and, given the right circumstances, codfish populations could explode almost over night. Anyone who has lived by the sea has seen how certain populations do this. The mystery is what “the right circumstances” are.

    Codfish begin by floating around with the plankton, as tiny eggs and minute fish only a tenth of an inch long, and in polar regions some copepods are over a quarter inch. So cod may begin as prey for copepods, before graduating to eating them.

    If scientists can use the words “if” and “might,” perhaps I can be excused for the following:

    If warmer water, (such as the MWP’s,) shrank the copepods, then the cod might graduate from eaten to eaters more quickly, and one of the ocean’s mysterious population-explosions might occur. (Cod populations were so huge after the MWP that they could be fished from the ocean with large baskets, rather than nets, and were a big reason many fishermen from northern Europe crossed the Atlantic before Columbus and Cabot.)

    In any case, the fishermen will get the blame for low populations, while the bigshots take the credit if populations rebound.

  73. I love what is for all intents and purposes, the disclaimer.

    “The team’s findings suggest that rates fundamental to all organisms (such as mortality, reproduction and feeding), may not change in synch with one another in a warming world.”

    So in other words, you’ll probably be dead long before you can totally disprove this paper as the potential future timeline is infinite.

    Cold blooded crocodilians are no different in size now, than they were in the pre-industrial 1700s, 2000 years ago or even 10,000 years ago. In fact, present day crocodilians are largely no different in size than the majority of prehistoric species last seen 65 million years ago prior to the great extinction. Similarly, the majority of species of the warm blooded Mammoth were no bigger than than modern day Elephants. Far differing climates, different methods of thermoregulation, no difference in size. There are far too many variables involved with evolution than to simply claim X will happen because of Y.

    Though I do expect some asshat to come up with a paper claiming that crocs are getting bigger as evidenced by the recently captured 23 foot long named ‘Lolong’ in the Philipines, with a claim it is (quite obviously) down to anthropogenic global warming/climate disruption/random new PR term of the month.

    I suggest they should be looking in peleobiological records for fossiled plankton, one of the first lifeforms on Earth over a far greater extended timeline period than the usual 40 year period used to come up with the typical alarmist claims. Prehistoric oceans flourished with not only warmer water but with larger co2 concentrations in the atmosphere. By ignoring the past, how can you honestly predict the future? In a simple answer, you can’t.

    I’ll make my own alarmist claim. If the temperature of the oceans reaches 100 degrees celcius, plankton will become extinct. However, given the amount of time it would take for them to reach that temperature plankton may well have evolved and not become extinct. But we’ll all be dead so there will be nobody to verify or disprove the claim either way. But thanks for the grant money.

  74. Do Researchers Become Bigger with Increases in Global Temperatures? GRL, Morano, M. and Watts, A.; October 2011 pp 11-78.

    Researchers from the the University of East Anglia have modelled the size of prominent CAGW scientists and found a striking correlation of their girth to the increasing temperature of the Earth. “It appears”, yesterday’s press release says, “that as the temperature of the Earth increases, research grants into the study of temperature impact on the world’s biosphere have become disproportionately larger through time. As a result, a diversion of study funding has occurred, resulting in a transfer of data collection costs to those associated with the researchers’ food and drink. This problem is particularly true, it is noted, for the senior researcher or lead author, traditionally the one who exerts the least effort for the most credit, and in the process has more time, and now money, for eating and drinking, while becoming physically more sedentary .”

    Geo-scientists contacted about this finding expressed concern that future meetings on Climate Change as happened in Copenhagen in 2009 could result in earthquakes and volcanic activity as the concentrated mass of Climate Change scientists distort the Earth’s crust and precipitate tectonic plate adjustments. Skeptics within the warmist community are casting doubts about the “Fat Funding Facts” theory, as it is becoming known, but recent photographs of the guru of the Global Climate Change movement, Al Gore, show disturbing evidence supportive of the this latest side-effect (sic) of anthropogenically created CO2,

  75. From the article:
    “Almost all cold-blooded organisms are affected by a phenomenon known as the ‘temperature-size rule’, which describes how individuals of the same species reach a smaller adult size when reared at warmer temperatures.”

    The important qualification in this statement is, “of the same species.” So, the remarks about dinosaurs and allusions thereto, from our usually brilliant commentators, are essentially red herrings. Pardon the mixed metaphor.

    Yes, the article does mention climate change, in passing. BFD. If you’re serious about getting your stuff published, that’s almost de rigueur these days. I don’t believe in guilt by association. The authors did NOT say that their research is living proof for the existence of the Flying CO2 Monster.

    From my skeptic’s perspective, the copepod research, while not Earth-shattering, is mostly good science.

  76. For copepods such as Calanus finmachicus it is not temperature per se that determines growth but critically the availability of food particles in the crucial early days of life. Any observed effect of temperature on growth rate and final size must be acting via an effect on the nature and spatial density in the water column of suitable food particles (microplankton, such as cilicates) in those crucial first days after hatching.

  77. Larry Fields says:
    September 29, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    “So, the remarks about dinosaurs and allusions thereto, from our usually brilliant commentators, are essentially red herrings. Pardon the mixed metaphor.”

    It might be that the amount of red herrings might be the only species that actually grows when the temperature change a degree or so.

  78. “But until now”, I read, “scientists have not fully understood how these size changes take place.”

    R Babcock says on September 27, 2011 at 10:26 am:

    “From earlier Seinfeld episodes, I thought just the opposite. Shrinkage occurs in colder waters.”

    Yes, a pesky problem for us boys, but brilliant as far as the girls are concerned!

    However I, – as a world famous scientist on this matter, ok, ok – so the study of the opposite sex is/or may be – a hobby, not a science – I can only confirm that as far as we can tell, at the moment, the situation is that the warming has expanded the eyes of “these particular planktons’” predators.
    These predators are now, due to their better eye sight, having an increased probability of making a meal out of the older generation thus leaving the “smaller youngsters” at home for us scientists to study.

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