Eye roller: 'Climate change shrinks goats'

From Durham University, and the “would you, could you, with a goat” department comes this inanity. They can’t come up with any other explanation, so it must be ‘climate change’. At the rate of observed shrinkage, the goats will be palm sized by the year 2100. Just think of the pet market!

climate_goats1

Image: goat size and climate change compared (not part of the press release) /sarc

Via Eurekalert:

‘Shrinking goats’ another indicator that climate change affects animal size

Alpine goats appear to be shrinking in size as they react to changes in climate, according to new research from Durham University.

The researchers studied the impacts of changes in temperature on the body size of Alpine Chamois, a species of mountain goat, over the past 30 years.

To their surprise, they discovered that young Chamois now weigh about 25 per cent less than animals of the same age in the 1980s.

In recent years, decreases in body size have been identified in a variety of animal species, and have frequently been linked to the changing climate.

However, the researchers say the decline in size of Chamois observed in this study is striking in its speed and magnitude.

The research, funded by the Natural Environment Research Council is published in the journal Frontiers in Zoology.

Lead author Dr Tom Mason, in the School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, at Durham University, said: “Body size declines attributed to climate change are widespread in the animal kingdom, with many fish, bird and mammal species getting smaller.

“However the decreases we observe here are astonishing. The impacts on Chamois weight could pose real problems for the survival of these populations.”

The team delved into long-term records of Chamois body weights provided by hunters in the Italian Alps.

IMAGE: This shows a mother and juvenile Chamois in the Italian Alps.

They discovered that the declines were strongly linked to the warming climate in the study region, which became 3-4°C warmer during the 30 years of the study.

To date, most studies have found that animals are getting smaller because the changing climate is reducing the availability or nutritional content of their food.

However, this study found no evidence that the productivity of Alpine meadows grazed by Chamois had been affected by the warming climate. Instead, the team believes that higher temperatures are affecting how chamois behave.

Co-author Dr Stephen Willis, in the School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, at Durham University, said: “We know that Chamois cope with hot periods by resting more and spending less time searching for food, and this may be restricting their size more than the quality of the vegetation they eat.

“If climate change results in similar behavioural and body mass changes in domestic livestock, this could have impacts on agricultural productivity in coming decades.”

According to the authors, the future plight of the Chamois remains unclear.

Dr Philip Stephens, another co-author on the study, in the School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, at Durham University, said: “The body mass of juvenile animals is critical to their ability to survive harsh winters.

“However, whether that becomes a problem will depend on the balance of future climate change between the seasons.”

The research suggests that declining body size is a result of changes in both climate and the density of animals.

To counter declining body size in future, the researchers say it might be necessary to maintain Chamois populations at lower densities than occur at present, perhaps through changes in hunting regulations.

Dr Mason added: “This study shows the striking, unforeseen impacts that climate change can have on animal populations.

“It is vital that we continue to study how climate change affects species such as Chamois. Changes in body size could act as early-warning systems for worse impacts to come, such as the collapses of populations.”

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180 thoughts on “Eye roller: 'Climate change shrinks goats'

  1. “To counter declining body size in future, the researchers say it might be necessary to maintain Chamois populations at lower densities than occur at present, perhaps through changes in hunting regulations.”
    Perhaps the current climate is so beneficial to these goats and the hunting restrictions are so sever that the goats are out-breeding their environment.

    • or the hunters have potted off all the large ones?
      so whats left is smaller breeding stock
      and probably overcrowded

  2. The only real difference, that I believe may be attributed to climate change, is the size of the lefties brains.
    They are becoming much smaller, and completely dysfunctional! Strange phenomena….

  3. They’ve rediscovered Allen’s Rule and Bergmann’s Rule and misattributed thermal regulation adaptation to malnutrition. Clue: volume to surface area ratio.

    • Thx for mention of Allen’s Rule and Bergmann’s Rule. I knew of the phenomena; I didn’t know they had names.

  4. The temperature where the goats roam has increased 3-4 degrees C in the last 30 years?
    Hmmm. . . .I wonder just how reliable their temperature monitoring system is. . . .????

    • Unfortunately, they did not have temperatue records, so they used the size of the goats as proxies.
      Hey, at least they’re not tree rings

    • Where on earth is there a four degree change in 30 years? ……wait are these model goats or real empirical goats?

      • Funny you should mention that.
        They said:
        “The team delved into long-term records of Chamois body weights provided by hunters in the Italian Alps.”
        Don’t know about model but they do sound made up.
        I don’t see getting too worked up because some older hunters bragged about how big the goats used to be back in the day nor if a fisherman likes to tell us about the big one that got away.
        Nice story…
        Not Science.
        Plus, I agree there should be more information about the temperature data for the goat’s home town.
        Might be some urban heat included, maybe.

  5. Can I say this study is full of goat’s shyte?
    Why does global warming generally mean less of something good (to eat like goats), and more of something bad? More mosquitoes, rats, flies, flees, bubonic plague and fewer polar bears, baby seals, cod, popcorn and soda?

  6. 4 degrees C warmer in 30 years sounds fishy. Just exactly where were the increased temps found? That’s very important. Also, higher temps means longer growing seasons, which should mean increased weights.
    Thirty years isn’t enough to show much. They don’t have enough data to make any claims, and there are probably several other causes of reduced body weights, even if they are there. Sampling errors can occur because of the time of the year when body weights are taken and also there are sheer biological variations, about which this study knows nothing. They are not in any position to even say whether a 25%
    weight reduction is normal or not. They also should have population weights measured for more than just two points in time. Otherwise there is no way to judge any correlation between the supposed independent (temps) and dependent (body weight) variables. This study is simply half-assed, to be technical about it.
    Also, how accurately can they determine age of the goats being measured? Have they corrected for gender? Is the goat population distributed the same as it was 30 years ago? Has the diet changed in any way? Changes in behavior (less searching for food) does not change the goats’ genetics. Are these goats genetically the same population as those measured 30 years ago? Unless you can prove that very important point, you can’t say anything about anything.

    • What worries me is the intelligence of those who allocate research funds for these incompetent people who try, unsuccessfully, to justify how they spent the money.

  7. interesting the largest bears live north while elephants roam the equatorial regions and what about those whales? …and those huge animals roaming 65 million years ago…in all that heat…

    • And those huge animals roaming around 65 million years ago in an atmosphere with 1700 ppm of CO2 (cretaceous) seem to be doing ok without any thermogeddon.

      • And even more, a period earlier at the peak of the giant saurpods were roaming with an atmosphere with 1950 ppm.

      • I was thinking the same thing. If the connection between temperature and animal size is correct then Jurassic Park would have to place signs everywhere saying “Please do not step on the T. rex.”

  8. “It is vital that we continue to study how climate change affects species such as Chamois. Changes in body size could act as early-warning systems for worse impacts to come, such as the collapses of populations.”
    Well, according to the article, populations won’t actually “collapse,” they’ll just… shrink.

    • The population could collapse, so we may need to help it with more agressive hunting practices.
      uh, what?

    • “It’s vital we continue to get funded up the wazoo for this baloney while the cash is easy to get from deluded grabbermints and leftie idiots.”
      Fixed.

    • So researchers from Durham , a grey, cold Northern city want to spend more study time in sunlit Alpine meadows beneath majestic snow covered mountain peaks . What a surprise (not).

  9. What rubbish – but of course there is need for further study. I bet it’s nice in the mountains at that time of year. And no mention of the improved food supply from the increasing CO2 content – gracious, things are even worse than they thought!

      • Too right – but have you seen some of the Chelsea Tractors clogging the roads here in London? Smaller – smaller than New Jersey, perhaps!
        And – hey – increasing CO2 has meant that many organisms are getting smaller. I’m down 10% bodyweight in a year, thanks – obviously – to Gore-bull warming.
        That’s my 5-2 Diet nature trick by the way.
        /Sarc – except for genuine weight loss.
        Auto

  10. “If climate change results in similar behavioural and body mass changes in domestic livestock, this could have impacts on agricultural productivity in coming decades.”
    HINT- selective breeding works even in very warm places.

  11. Ever since climate change started, I have aged more. Climate change causes people to age. It has to stop.

  12. “Yet they believe the decline in size of Chamois is unprecedented in its speed and magnitude, they write in Frontiers in Zoology. There is just one problem with their conclusion; the data they used was records of Chamois body weights provided by hunters in the Italian Alps, which is not a controlled study. ”
    Quote is from Science 2.0

      • Yes, like how the collectors were finding declining numbers of that snail that was supposed to be extinct. Hunters reporting smaller goats. Man-made, just not man made climate change…

      • Bingoid! The hunters were sampling (and removing!) the right hand end of the bell curve. This is monumentally obvious to anyone with the capability of thought. The study is nonsense, junk science, fiction, drivel, garbage, pseudoscience, climatology, crap, codswallop, balderdash, rubbish, sewage.

    • Someone correct me if I’m wrong…but if the study has no control is it not then de facto unscientific? Of course they could always wrangle about what constitutes a ‘control’

  13. …prevailing data (RSS, UAH, etc) would tend to suggest flat temperatures cause shrinkage. If they are palm sized by 2100, we’re in an ice age.

  14. Wow! This is good news in the fight against obesity – we needn’t worry about putting on weight, climate change will make us smaller and lighter … yipee … burgers all round!

  15. Climate change is magic. Rising temperatures harm every species we value, and strengthen every species we consider a pest. Goats will shrink, while poison ivy will grow. Mosquitoes will flourish, while honeybees will be succumb to diseases. It is amazing.

    • That’s part of the meme. Nothing, absolutely nothing good can come from man made climate change!

  16. Climate change has decimated the unicorns also. Last time I saw a unicorn was back in the 70s staggering home from the pub. I Forget who was staggering, me or the unicorn. Any way. It was before climae change started so it must be the cause!

  17. Hey. this is great! It’s the answer to our problems. If climate change shrinks animals, then it should shrink humans too! By 2100 we will all be of Lilliputian size and use a lot less energy. Literally thousands of people could travel in any one of our present day buses and planes. Hundreds could live in single houses or apartments of today. Our energy needs (hence carbon footprints) will shrink by a factor of a hundred or a thousand and we won’t have to change our lifestyle one iota. Think how much less food we will need. And wow, since plants are getting bigger with more CO2, we could all become vegetarians. Dozens could live for a week off of a single potato. This is just great news.

    • “Literally thousands of people could travel in any one of our present day buses and planes.”
      Yes, but the driver’s feet wouldn’t reach the pedals…

  18. I had to stop reading at this point “The team delved into long-term records of Chamois body weights provided by hunters in the Italian Alps.”
    Come on Guys…they got all the big ones.

    • Yes Jeff and the hunters of course were much more reliable, positively scientific, than those old timers who took temperature records in the 1800’s.

    • I cannot follow their logic – perhaps they are displaying a lack of it.
      This study seems to be discussing the rate of weight gain during young goats’ first year, not the ultimate size of adult goats:
      “they discovered that young Chamois now weigh about 25 per cent less than animals of the same age in the 1980s.”
      They say:
      “To counter declining body size in future, the researchers say it might be necessary to maintain Chamois populations at lower densities than occur at present, perhaps through changes in hunting regulations.”
      This might be logical if the sustaining ability of the chamois goats’ habitat was being reduced, but they say:
      “However, this study found no evidence that the productivity of Alpine meadows grazed by Chamois had been affected by the warming climate.”
      If there is no shortage of forage, why the need to reduce the goat population?
      They also say:
      “We know that Chamois cope with hot periods by resting more and spending less time searching for food, and this may be restricting their size…”
      And:
      “The body mass of juvenile animals is critical to their ability to survive harsh winters.”
      What seems to me to be the logical conclusion:
      If the climate had warmed by the claimed 4 degrees C during the interval of declining juvenile goat size the winters would be survivable by smaller goats. If the smaller goats are the lazy eaters, more would survive their 1st winter, living to reproduce. The following goat generations would contain greater numbers of the lazy eaters, and thus smaller, juvenile goats. This would be a classic display of natural selection at work on the goat gene pool.
      The herd would still contain heavy eaters. Their relative numbers would increase when harsher winters return to reduce the number of lazy eaters.
      I also think the concept that hunters had harvested many of the larger juveniles, removing hearty eating genes from the gene pool, is a likely contributing explanation for reduced average size of juveniles.
      (That behavioral characteristics are inheritable is a basic tenant of dog breeding efforts.)
      SR

      • I noticed the same thing – very non sequitur. I haven’t read the study (because I can already tell it will annoy me) – but the hunting explanation is a more sound theory than magic shrinking goats.

  19. If you really want to know how the “global warming” scam has modified goats, Google: “Goat of Mendes Eliphas Levi”. Curious resemblance to a certain, high-profile, hive-hero collector of disappearing Himalayan glacier fantasies, who, as well, currently guides the destiny of the eco-parasite’s leading boondoggle–don’t you think?

  20. It is well known that they were as large as moose at the nadir of the little ice age. It’s just serendipitous that the moose don’t lay around like the chamois when it gets hot.

  21. So if it continues to warm, some animals will get smaller. Which means if things cool down, some animals will get taller! Hope springs eternal for me!

  22. Looks like Micro-Goat inhabits the current low carbon earth, while Macro-Goat inhabits the ancient high carbon Earth. Somehow, the University has taken a Macro-Goat photo from the ancient past, maybe its temporal photography, what a break through! Why aren’t they celebrating that, surely there’s a nobel prize in there some where.
    Hell, if they can snap the past, they could show us the future too!
    Time could run a front page of the Giant Andes Megalodon Goat from 2100, stands as tall as a giraffe, can bunt a commercial truck 1/6th of a Foot Ball field.
    Can eat almost anything, mostly Giant Condors, as they glide by.

  23. The article is a classic example of horrible science reporting. It makes no mention of one key finding – namely that the reduction in body mass of the goats is highly correlated in increased goat populations. It only mentions climate change as the potential cause.
    Turns out that stricter hunting regulations over the study period resulted in pronounced increases in the goat populations. Three populations were studied and the population increases among them seem to range between a 50% and 75% increases in population. If I assume (finger in the wind) an average population increase of 60% what we actually have is a 20% increase in total goat mass. My bet is that this increase is also highly correlated to climate change in the area. So climate change is highly correlated with total goat mass production.
    We have a clear problem with correlation and causation in the study. The authors readily admit that the increased population is surely one cause of the reduced average body mass of the goats. They provide an possible explanation of how the change in climate might change foraging habits and hence body masses. That’s certainly a reasonably hypothesis IMO. But what I didn’t see in the study was any testing of the hypothesis. So basically you have two things highly correlated to the change in body mass but that’s about it. Causation is not well established for either the population increase or the climate increase.
    You can find the actual study here: http://www.frontiersinzoology.com/content/11/1/69

    • Don’t call it “climate change” when it is clearly attributed to anthropogenic global warming, where global cooling is no longer a factor, you sound so silly when you do that. Let them be the silly ones.

      • Actually, I don’t recall the writers of the paper making that clear connection. But be that as it may, it seems that sounding silly is the main point of replies on this topic. So I’m in good company.

  24. “To counter declining body size in future, the researchers say it might be necessary to maintain Chamois populations at lower densities than occur at present, perhaps through changes in hunting regulations.”
    Look at the bright side! At least they did not call for carbon taxes!

    • … and they didn’t say that goat shrinkage was “unprecedented” and that “we have to act NOW!”
      I sense that these scientific papers have been really improving of late…

    • Think about it! If reduced populations would counteract declining body size, it has to be a food supply issue. Why would size increase with lower numbers if global warming is causing the original reduction?

  25. This is a very bizarre study complete with it’s own assumptions.
    Hunting for chamois is not a normal venture for us common folk; hunts are tightly controlled and very expensive. Adult chamois males are the target where the preference is for the oldest bugger with the largest headgear the hunting party (guides and hunters) can locate.
    Bothering the juveniles or does is frowned upon and willful harassment of the juveniles and females can lead to discipline, such as cancelling the hunt and banned from future hunts.
    Just how did these ‘hunters’ weigh the young chamois?
    I’m curious about how temperatures related to the chamois hunting was collected. For a very odd reason I also wonder just how much ‘time of observation’ added any adjustments since hunters are so active hunting at mid day (usually not).
    Chamois hunts are normally conducted during the November timeframe; leaving us wondering where the researchers maintained their field bases. Local ski lodges perhaps?

    • Just how did these ‘hunters’ weigh the young chamois?…
      They based their sample from the taking of the big ones, in filled data for the smaller, younger ones and un-characteristically (for climate researchers) adjusted the mean downwards…

  26. Global warming on a much more massive scale allowed the largest animals to ever walk the earth – the dinosaurs – so the irony here is bemusing at best. Do these so-called ‘scientists’ ever take into consideration a big picture approach to their published studies before submission? If this is evidence of the process, I highly doubt it.

  27. Did the article say they relied on hunters estimates for past data? We are known for stretching the truth in that area. The deer I shot last year was 25% bigger then what’s running around this year. At least that much.

  28. So they say
    “However the decreases we observe here are astonishing. The impacts on Chamois weight could pose real problems for the survival of these populations.”
    and later
    “To counter declining body size in future, the researchers say it might be necessary to maintain Chamois populations at lower densities than occur at present, perhaps through changes in hunting regulations.”
    Thats hilarious!

  29. This is bound to upset those Moslem guys who fear this will reduce their quality of life. Will this cause ISIS to weigh in on the side of AGW?

  30. I am reposting this because my post was accidentally buried in the wrong part of this dialogue:
    Steve Reddish October 21, 2014 at 6:51 pm
    I cannot follow their logic – perhaps they are displaying a lack of it.
    This study seems to be discussing the rate of weight gain during young goats’ first year, not the ultimate size of adult goats:
    “they discovered that young Chamois now weigh about 25 per cent less than animals of the same age in the 1980s.”
    They say:
    “To counter declining body size in future, the researchers say it might be necessary to maintain Chamois populations at lower densities than occur at present, perhaps through changes in hunting regulations.”
    This might be logical if the sustaining ability of the chamois goats’ habitat was being reduced, but they say:
    “However, this study found no evidence that the productivity of Alpine meadows grazed by Chamois had been affected by the warming climate.”
    If there is no shortage of forage, why the need to reduce the goat population?
    They also say:
    “We know that Chamois cope with hot periods by resting more and spending less time searching for food, and this may be restricting their size…”
    And:
    “The body mass of juvenile animals is critical to their ability to survive harsh winters.”
    What seems to me to be the logical conclusion:
    If the climate had warmed by the claimed 4 degrees C during the interval of declining juvenile goat size the winters would be survivable by smaller goats. If the smaller goats are the lazy eaters, more would survive their 1st winter, living to reproduce. The following goat generations would contain greater numbers of the lazy eaters, and thus smaller, juvenile goats. This would be a classic display of natural selection at work on the goat gene pool.
    The herd would still contain heavy eaters. Their relative numbers would increase when harsher winters return to reduce the number of lazy eaters.
    I also think the concept that hunters had harvested many of the larger juveniles, removing hearty eating genes from the gene pool, is a likely contributing explanation for reduced average size of juveniles.
    (That behavioral characteristics are inheritable is a basic tenant of dog breeding efforts.)
    SR

  31. This is simply Darwins theory of natural selection at work. As the environment has warmed the goats that would have died during the harsher winters now survive the milder one’s. This allows them to become part of the breeding population and spread their smaller size genes in what is probably an increasing population. If the environment turns cold again this smaller population would likely decline as the bigger size becomes more favourable. Or it could be that the CO2 has affected the goats brains and made them Lazier (sarc).

    • It is not simply Darwin’s theory of natural selection at work. Firstly, Darwin did not propose natural selection. He proposed that natural selection is the method that allows new traits introduced into the gene pool of a species to prosper to the point of transforming it into a new species. He made no suggestion for how the new traits might arise.
      Secondly, the case of the shrinking goats does not require new traits to arise. Nor does it require the evolution of a new species of goat. The genes that produce slower growing juveniles, by whatever method, were already present in these goats’ gene pool. Goats that inherit them simply do not gain enough weight to survive to adulthood unless winters are mild.
      The lazy eaters suggestion was based on the observation of less vigorous feeders when summers are warmer.
      SR

      • The genes for goats that are less vigorous feeders during warmer times could be a built-in mechanism that prevents over foraging during spells of mild weather.
        SR

      • You are correct that natural selection is not Darwin’s proposal but it is an important part of his theory of evolution. However I made no suggestion that this was a new trait simply that smaller existing smaller animal are now able to survive.
        Your suggestion that a new trait (mutation) is needed for evolution to occur is wrong, its simply a change in the existing inherited traits that allows evolution to occur. If the smaller size population became separated from the larger size then its quite possible that a subspecies could eventually arise.
        The link between lazy eating when hot and size change is pure speculation, perhaps their food is more abundant or nutritious when there is warm summers, perhaps the goats require less food to heat their bodies, perhaps a smaller goat requires less food.

      • The link between lazy (less hours spent) eating when hot and small size was indeed merely speculation – by the authors. My point was that if true, it would explain why the population contained a greater number of small goats during warm spells, without invoking evolution.
        When natural selection operates on an isolated segment of a population, it does so by culling those traits unsuited to local conditions. This results in there being less variation within that group’s gene pool. An example is seen in dog fur. Canines as a whole have short hair and long hair genes. In hot climates, such as North Africa, short haired dogs predominate. In frigid climates, such as Alaska, short haired dogs have been completely culled from the local gene pool. Malamutes and huskies can be called new subspecies if desired, but there has been no evolution involved. Likewise, isolating small goats from large ones is not evolution.
        SR

  32. Funny how their solutions always end up being austerity and population reduction along with reduction of meat intake.
    These evil, globalist scum and their unscientific simpering sycophants are so predictable.

  33. Fish in the Gulf of Mexico are also shrinking. I know this for a fact because I’ve interviewed 17 fisherman and every single one of them caught giant fishes last year… I’m only catching pygmies…

    • What about rainwater runoff from agriculture fields — chemical fertilizers & insecticides/pesticides — joining Gulf of Mexico and causing dead zone with zero level oxygen. Look at water pollution component then you get the answer.
      Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

      • I reinterviewed the 17 guys and they’re still catching the huge fish… I conclude that global warming is only affecting me.

  34. It is highly bogus research. These animals are adopted to wide climate variations for centuries in association with natural variation in precipitation and thus temperature. So far the global warming is less than 0.2 oC and how come this insignificant change impact animal. We should blame the journals for publishing such reports.
    Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

  35. It is probably due to lower humidity due to climate change as the Chamois leather is known for absorbing moisture so lower humidity will lead to lower weights. I should be able to get this published!

  36. Clearly the paper is a satyr that illustrates it is still necessary to faun to the AGW (Alpine Goat Withering) crowd to get published.

  37. Think about how small the Wooly Mammoth will be if this analysis were correct, And dang, is anybody studying the remaining megafauna size of Polar Bears? It was funny when these beasts were tracking the Northwest passage seekers and needed the Coast guard to keep from being eaten by the extinct species.

  38. Good Lord. I presume the population was controlled for sex, age and time of year taken – all those things hunters typically record when they bag a mountain goat?

  39. Even though one of my cousins got a “First” in oriental languages at Durham university I never thought of it as a serious institution of higher learning.
    While I was playing rugby for “Durham City” we used to practice at “Hollow Drift”, a field with the smelliest goat I have ever encountered. Probably this goat and his relatives are the ones on which this study is founded.
    The shrinking of the goats in Durham has nothing to do with “Climate Change”. My guess is that it is the natural consequence of stinkiness.

  40. This is brilliant 2 post of climate craziness one after the other and shed loads of great comments to follow.
    A’ where do you find these gems.
    My thought on all this was what happens when they take goats from the wild cold mountains and put them in zoos and private collections in warmer environments? Do they shrink with each generation? I’ve not heard of it and I’m sure it would have been reported if it did happen.
    James Bull

  41. Did they account for the trolls?
    My understanding being that there aren’t any these days. Not the internet kind, the kind that lived under bridges and ate goats. Now we know from the story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff that the trolls couldn’t handle the biggest goats. So they would have had to make do with small and medium size goats. But that there are no more trolls to be found, explains things. The trolls have stopped killing of the small and medium goats, so not only has the goat population risen, but the ratio of small/medium to large has also changed in favour of small/medium.
    Now what killed off the trolls? Climate change? Land use (as in new bridge types unsuitable to live under)?
    Or maybe the biggest Billy Goat Gruff just got them all?
    [If no funding killed the trolls, We need vote for more bridge taxes to support these goats.
    Poll the toll road troll goat coat tax! .mod]

  42. A few remarks: First, chamois aren’t goats, they’re not even closely related to goats (yes, I know the press release say they are a kind of mountain goat but since when do you expect a press release to contain correct information?).
    Secondly: [decreases] in size of game animals are usually due to either overhunting or underhunting by humans. Overhunting tends tho shrink animals since human hunters tend to select the largest animals which other predators don’t normally do. This size-change tends to be [permanent] since it changes the genetics of the affected population. [Paradoxically] too little human hunting in the absence of natural predators have a similar effect: the population grows so much that it outstrips food resources and the animals shrink due to insufficient nutrition. Unless persisting for a long time (and thus affecting genetics) this effect is reversible: reduce the numbers and the next generation will be normal-sized.
    By the way, the largest real mountain goats (Capra nubiana) I’ve ever seen was in the Negev desert of Southern Israel. Must be due to all the cold and snow there.

  43. Upon detailed examination, I have to report that there has been no noticeable diminution in my size, and that, in fact, dimensions, if anything have increased.
    I intend publishing a goat-reviewed paper to this effect.

  44. At least the idea makes sense. In a warmer climate the goats dont have to be big to survive, and can enjoy all the benefits of being smaller.
    Pros being big:
    -Can survive cold spells because body area is small compared to body volume. It takes longer for a big animal to freeze to death than a small animal.
    Cons being big:
    -Need to find lots of food.
    -..the harder you fall.
    – attractive prey
    – less agility
    – hundreds of other reasons most animals are small
    If an animal can afford being smaller, he will, by Darwin, shrink.
    That said, I believe this to be a case of hunting selection. Hunters tend to shoot the biggest animals, for fun and its easier to hit etc. Where there are hunters with rifles, pray will probably grow smaller, especially if there is a limit to how many animals you are allowe to kill.

    • “If an animal can afford being smaller, he will, by Darwin, shrink.”
      Actually paleontology shows the opposite. In most lineages size tends to increase over time. It is not clear why this is so. Possibly it has to do with intra-species competition.

      • tty Submitted on 2014/10/22 at 3:00 am | In reply to Björn from Sweden.
        “If an animal can afford being smaller, he will, by Darwin, shrink.”
        Actually paleontology shows the opposite. In most lineages size tends to increase over time. It is not clear why this is so. Possibly it has to do with intra-species competition.

        Well, it is true for every species …

        The male will marry (pursue, seduce and mate with) the prettiest female he can afford.
        The female will marry (accept and mate with) the richest, most powerful male she can attract.

        And the ones that cannot attract anything else will turn to each other. (Usually unsuccessfully.)
        Thus, in a natural environment, the species will breed to ever more attractive, ever-larger individuals – up until the extremes (the largest, those too massive or too extreme to survive efficiently) go too far and die earlier than the “average” they are competing against.

      • “up until the extremes (the largest, those too massive or too extreme to survive efficiently) go too far and die earlier than the “average” they are competing against.”
        Actually not even then, if they have more offspring before dying than their more-longlived competitors.

      • Ah, but your ecolli’s don’t need to attract any female ecollies in order to breed. They can slip off a new ecollie by simple division, hence their way of multiplying adds up to not needing to subtract for any “attention-getting” sexual mores or lesses.
        Iffen an ecollie needed to attract another ecollie to breed, you’d have ecollie the size of blue whales in your gut. 8<)
        (And if you think an ecollie is bad, you ought to see them there egerman shepherds fer the goats …)

  45. ‘The team delved into long-term records of Chamois body weights provided by hunters in the Italian Alps.’
    The big ones get shot first has they make the best ‘trophies’ that means the ‘stock’ gets smaller in size thanks to unnatural selection. But then there is no grant money it that while its clear there is still lots of grant money in keeping ‘the cause ‘ going , so as a researcher looking to make you pay cheque you decided what you’re going to claim is the problem.

    • There’s the money shot:
      “It is vital that we continue to study how climate change affects species such as Chamois. Changes in body size could act as early-warning systems for worse impacts to come, such as the collapses of populations.”

  46. Earlier this year Dr Mason had this to say;

    Date:June 24, 2014
    Source:Durham University
    Summary:Threatened animal species could cope better with the effects of climate change if competition from other animals for the same habitats is restricted, according to new research. Observing the goats in the Italian Alps during the summer, the researchers found that Chamois tended to move to higher altitudes where it is cooler on hotter days and in the middle of the day, but moved much higher when sheep were present. To their surprise, they discovered that competition with sheep had a far greater effect on Chamois than the predicted effects of future climate change.

    So he found and reported that chamois have competion from sheep, which pushes them to higher altitudes. Isn’t it possible that increased competion for food with the sheep has caused the reduction?
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140624110605.htm

  47. Everyone knows that cold water makes things shrink. Did anyone in this study check to see if maybe with the rising temps, the goats were taking more dips in the runoff from the melting glaciers??

  48. nowhere in the research or within the posts can I find any evidence of ‘size’ being measured or even mentioned in a quantifiable way. Weight does not necessarily relate to body size it can easily relate to the health and nutritional state of the animal, ie if I eat and drink less and my weight reduces by 25% I will still be the same height, my size has only varied due to my nutritional imput – nothing to do with genetics or climactic conditions per se.
    The noted increase in chamois populations almost certainly has lead to greater competition for food within the wild population that has lead to a reduction in average weight. There is no graph printed here to show if there is any correlation between body weight and population size. I would suspect that none of the information is accurate enough to make any scientific statement. If this is research which is claiming that less food is available then I couldnt find it therefore that cant be down to climate. Nowhere was there any indication that the animals were getting smaller – just lighter and more numerous – no surprise there either.
    Just as likely is the statement that climate change is responsible for the tightening of hunting laws!!
    What a complete load of BS

  49. They should tout climate change as a cure for the obesity epidemic. There is a lot more consumer money involved in the diet industry than there is grant money in climate change research.
    From CRS’ “Federal Climate Change Funding from FY2008 to FY2014”: Direct federal funding to address global climate change totaled approximately $77 billion from FY2008 through FY2013.
    From Marketdata (a market research firm that has tracked diet products and programs since 1989) in its biennial study: “The U.S. Weight Loss & Diet Control Market.” the U.S. weight loss market is now estimated to have reached over $60 Billion per year.

    • The obesity clinic could charge for arranging for the patient to move in with a mountain goat … er oops, I forgot this is for family reading.

  50. Yes it likely is climate change causing it to adapt on the basis of stored genetic information gathered over 100,000’s of years thus … THIS ALREADY HAPPENED BEFORE, (measurements of mountain goat fossils from warmer periods of the past may easily prove it). Warmer conditions provide for a longer period of food availability as well as food at higher altitudes both of which allow the goat to store less fat which then not only increases its agility and therefore survivability in negotiating rough mountain terrain – it expends less energy in doing so.
    Warmer is better for just about all living things, (and why most species live in the tropics).

  51. During the reign of Queen Victoria the pomeranian dog reduced in size 50% due to inbreeding. But that could never happen to goats.

  52. It couldn’t be the fact that hunters shoot mainly the big goats and only the smaller ones are left to breed, could it?

  53. “Body size declines attributed to climate change are widespread in the animal kingdom, with many fish, bird and mammal species getting smaller.”

    Another astonsihing statement for the “Climat Science Wall of Shame”. How in the world can they make this assertion. Widespread? Fishes, birds and mammals? What about insects? I don’t even think we are able to count the number of species that reside on the earth never mind declare most of them are getting smaller.
    On a personal note, I wish it was true that climate change changed body size especially around my waist.

  54. Natural selection. Bigger goats are easier to shoot and, of course the most sought after. Why waste a shot on the more difficult to hit runt. I suppose they covered the idea that if a goat was uncomfortable with the heat, he could merely climb a few hundred metres higher. Goats aren’t as dumb as environmental ecologists, you know. I wonder also if they used the engineer’s way of experimentation. Sample the goats at various elevations to see if they vary in size. Examine populations on shorter mountains. Check out the size of goats in the thousand miles of latitude change between Zurich and Tirana, Albania at the south end of the Dinaric Alps. That should be ~4C diff.
    Really, I’m only an engineer/geologist. I shouldn’t be able to design a better research model about mountain goats than Bio-Zoo types. Shame, shame Dura U. (Dura in Russian means stupid)

  55. The topic of ambient temperature versus weight gain has been well studied for domesticated animals raised on farms, such as chickens and cattle. A number of papers have established a clear link between higher ambient temperatures and reduced weight gain. One paper is here: http://ps.oxfordjournals.org/content/77/4/499.full.pdf
    The same phenomenon is true in dairy cattle as it relates to milk production: http://vi-cor.com/dairy/health-nutrition/heat-stress/
    Given that, a reduction in the size of alpine goats due to increasing temperatures is not surprising. I am not saying the increasing temperature is the only possible explanation, but it’s not an unreasonable one.

    • Yes, but that’s all it is, a “possible explanation.” Yet the authors proceed as though they’ve demonstrated a causal link – which they haven’t actually done. Further, the paper seems heavily biased toward focusing on the climate changes as opposed to population increases due to changes in hunting regulations. I think they have to show that the hunting regulations and resulting population increases are insufficient to explain the change in weights. And I don’t think that they did that.

    • Both mammals and birds, being warm blooded, have thermoregulatory systems. That’s why I included chickens – not because of respiratory systems. Alpine goats, being long haired, are of course going to be less able to tolerate warmer temperatures than their lowland equivalents. Do you have any evidence to back up your hypothesis about greater parasitic loads? Regarding the larger animals being shot, do you have evidence that the larger one year old goats are being hunted now (and weren’t in the past), thus skewing the size distribution of 1 year olds? Do you have evidence that grass is more loaded with parasites than leaves?

    • Hi Lewis, I grabbed them since they came to mind as commonly studied animals, whose commercial value means they will have been studied as it relates to most efficient weight gain, milk production, etc. But I’m fine with leaving out chickens and focusing only on ruminants. There are also papers on goats, which I found more recently. One is here: http://www.smallruminantresearch.com/article/0921-4488(89)90040-0/abstract I believe this is for lowland shorthair goats, so they would have higher temperature tolerance than alpine. And of course the 22C mentioned in the above paper was an average maximum across the entire growing season, which will include the springtime where it is cooler than in the summertime.
      In summary, it is clear that in ruminants there are optimum (and non optimum) temperature ranges for weight gain and overall health. To me it is not at all unreasonable for an alpine ruminant to be adversely affected by a 4C increase in growing season temperatures. Yet the paper was met with predominantly outright ridicule here. I appreciate your measured response, though I don’t see the foundation for your hypothesis – the paper stated that the goats had not suffered a decline in available grazing habitat in recent years.

  56. I have a counter hypothesis. Hunting regulations resulted in population growth. The 50-75% increase in population made food resources somewhat scarce. The goats ate less and grew less fat.

  57. I imagine their thought process went something like this:
    1- We need an animal that no one has studied yet on how it’s being affected by climate change.
    2- How do like the Italian Alps?
    together- Alpine goats!
    1- The goats are doing just fine though.
    2- Yeah but we can just use our imagination, this is soft science, remember?
    1- Oh right, remember how animals are supposed to be shrinking because plants are less nutritious now that the planet is 0.7 degrees warmer on average? The goats are undoubtedly shrinking so let’s go out and prove it.
    2- Hmm, we have no historical record of the size distribution of their population. Let’s just look back at the hunting records, that’s a solid sampling.
    1- Oh yeah, of course I don’t see any problem with using bag weights from hunters to assume the average weight of these critters 30 years ago.
    2- Bingo! The bag weights from 30 years ago are heavier than the goats we’ve weighed today and we already know the cause.
    1- Oh crap! There is no change in nutritional content of their food.
    2- Let’s just say it’s because they are resting more frequently, because you know, goats must expend a lot of energy looking for food, right?
    1- No, but it’s good enough to get published and determine that further study is needed.
    2- Ah, staring at goats over the next 10 years in the Italian Alps will be such a great way to spend our summers.
    together- Salud!

  58. PhilCP October 21, 2014 at 7:06 pm
    Unfortunately, they did not have temperatue records, so they used the size of the goats as proxies.
    Hey, at least they’re not tree rings
    ——————-
    Winner!

  59. Well, not only has the temperature stabilized, this old goat weights now 10% more than 18 years ago. Surely not the only specimen across the globe nowadays. What more do we need for concluding the anthropogenic climate nob project ready?

  60. This is cool. We could keep one in the kitchen in a tupperware container. It would eat all the potato peels and when needed be milked into a cup of coffee. How “Green” would that be!!

  61. so the winters are just as bad as ever!! – no change there then.
    “The body mass of juvenile animals is critical to their ability to survive HARSH WINTERS” –

  62. Hey Mr. Scientist, stop that research and let’s play “The Game of Science”. Here’s how.
    It’s like the Six Degree of Kevin Bacon game except you replace Kevin with Global Warming, then make connections from it and any observed anomaly.
    The latest entry, shrinking goats! Remember, all winners receive grant money.

  63. As usual the migratory birds started visiting South Indian Lakes.
    Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

  64. Based on measurements taken when he was 3 to 8 years old, my son should have been 18 feet tall when he turned 18.

  65. Weren’t there pygmy goats long ago?
    Might not smaller juveniles grow to smaller adults, better able to survive on less food?
    Goats are in some places not in others. For example, on Olympic peninsula in WA state but not on Vancouver Island (perhaps introduced on Olympic peninsula not native), so Coast Salish blanket weavers traded goat hair for the dog hair that Coast Salish in BC bred.

  66. continuing…. BadPress hid my Duckin-Grinnin-Runnin line.
    “lector” may have a point, some children start small – it is claimed that babies of Asian genetics tend to even when they grow to average size later. But I suppose that’s like different breeds of goats – humans vary in colour, shape/size, amount of hair and location.

  67. I’m recalling flapping over smaller size of some sea critters off of the west coast of Mexico a few years ago.
    Turned out that due to water temperature _shifts_ their favoured food had moved further out to sea.
    So those who stayed in the traditional location did not get as much food for energy expended and did not grow as large, but those who figured out where there now were more of the food prospered in size.
    Which reminds me of what a ranger from the Tongas National Forest told me about deer and wolves. Most deer aren’t very adventurous, they won’t relocate far. (Except some into urban areas, apparently. Deer do have ability to defend themselves, very agile, sharp hooves, and antlers on males. As a wolf descendant learned in Oak Bay BC last week – a dog received gashes several inches long. Elsewhere earlier a woman was gashed when she laid on top of her lap-mutts to protect them from a deer in her front yard.)
    And somewhat less of a parallel, there’s gray whales who have difficulty getting ample food due to ice in the Bering sea, the only place they feed traditionally. But the species will survive because a few hundred feed on the coast of BC and a few thousand skip the commute and stay off of OR all year.
    And environmentalist flapping about the future of the “resident” orca pods in the Puget Sound/Vancouver Island area, who I consider Darwin Candidates. In the news because a calf disappeared – but a Vancouver BC aquarium expert pointed out that orca mortality is 30% in the first year of life. They prefer salmon, supposedly a particular variety of salmon, which have not been plentiful in recent years.
    (This year there are many more returning to spawn so we’ll see if that has an effect on orca population. Some of the low populations may be due to less rain into southern Vancouver Island rivers at spawning time in recent years. You can easily guess what environmentalists blame that on Actually, some environmentalist claims are odd – Pacific salmon are only in the area at spawning time, they mature out in the ocean somewhere. So the salmon can only be part of their diet, perhaps an important part approaching winter when fish may be less common.)
    Oh, it’s been revealed that those orcas are actually “snowbirds”, they reside somewhere else for several months of the year, IIRC south, though Pacific herring spawn in January through April and recent populations have been more to the north – wannah bet food is involved? Gosh, maybe they’ll adopt food practices of the more successful “transient” population, who roam around and eat seals and such, even the odd deer they catch swimming between islands. (Yes, deer can swim fine, but probably don’t understand about orcas, they haven’t heard the term “killer whale”. Orcas even kill big mean sharks, probably they are smarter than sharks.)

  68. As for geese not migrating from the Arctic, I’d want to see reproduction data for a few years.
    Critters can make mistakes.
    A couple of years ago some pelicans neglected to get out of the Winterpeg area before freezeup. Kind humans flew surviving ones to a bird rehab operation in the Victoria BC area. One survived, behaved very happy when it was healthy enough to put into their pool.
    I do not know what happened to the Canada geese I saw one winter in a park in Cedar Rapids IA. Weather there can be misleading for part of a winter then turn nasty with much snow.

  69. So I went to Frontiers of Zoology and read the paper. I downloaded “Additional File 1” where all of the 10,455 chamois were cataloged and found that the total number was only 9,388 chamois…a difference of 11.37%.
    Were are the missing chamois?

    • Indeed!!! And the sheer body mass of the 1,067 missing ungulates has (and will) cause the oceans to rise…exponentially.
      This is a serious question though…why didn’t the researches, the reviewers, nor anyone else catch this discrepancy? Over 11% of stated data is disappeared…for what reason?

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