LOL! Study PR headline: ‘Mammals and birds could have best shot at surviving climate change’

From the UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA and the  “you really need to get out of your office more” department comes this inane press release. Apparently, climate has never changed rapidly before if you believe these folks.

Mammals and birds could have best shot at surviving climate change 

New research that analyzed more than 270 million years of data on animals shows that mammals and birds – both warm-blooded animals – may have a better chance of evolving and adapting to the Earth’s rapidly changing climate than their cold-blooded peers, reptiles and amphibians.

“We see that mammals and birds are better able to stretch out and extend their habitats, meaning they adapt and shift much easier,” said Jonathan Rolland, a Banting postdoctoral fellow at the biodiversity research centre at UBC and lead author of the study. “This could have a deep impact on extinction rates and what our world looks like in the future.”

By combining data from the current distribution of animals, fossil records and phylogenetic information for 11,465 species, the researchers were able to reconstruct where animals have lived over the past 270 million years and what temperatures they needed to survive in these regions.

The planet’s climate has changed significantly throughout history and the researchers found that these changes have shaped where animals live. For example, the planet was fairly warm and tropical until 40 million years ago, making it an ideal place for many species to live. As the planet cooled, birds and mammals were able to adapt to the colder temperatures so they were able to move into habitats in more northern and southern regions.

“It might explain why we see so few reptiles and amphibians in the Antarctic or even temperate habitats,” said Rolland. “It’s possible that they will eventually adapt and could move into these regions but it takes longer for them to change.”

Rolland explained that animals that can regulate their body temperatures, known as endotherms, might be better able to survive in these places because they can keep their embryos warm, take care of their offspring and they can migrate or hibernate.

“These strategies help them adapt to cold weather but we rarely see them in the ectotherms or cold-blooded animals,” he said.

Rolland and colleagues argue that studying the past evolution and adaptations of species might provide important clues to understand how current, rapid changes in temperature impact biodiversity on the planet.

###

The study was a collaboration between scientists at UBC and in Switzerland and Sweden. It was published today in Nature Ecologyhttp://nature.com/articles/doi:10.1038/s41559-017-0451-9.

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89 thoughts on “LOL! Study PR headline: ‘Mammals and birds could have best shot at surviving climate change’

      • I thought the point was the globe used to be tropical and as it cooled the reptiles and amphibians went extinct towards the poles. All they are telling us is that cold kills and hot is good for diversity.

      • Yes technically they left that out that all mammals EXCEPT humans have a good chance of surviving. Humans have to be dying in the CAGW narrative so we want to pay up and support all those dedicated little ecolunatics.

    • I’m still betting on the cockroaches … including those in Congress … for surviving any and all EXTREMES

  1. What rapid change in temperature are they talking about? Are these climate guys living on another planet and broadcasting their studies from there and mistakenly mixing up the data from one planet to earths data? Or are they producing lies to keep the grant money coming?

    • Temperature can change rapidly by 50 degrees C between day and night. Most people don’t call it climate change, though.

      • You are obviously right and I have never been able to understand how animals routinely take that kind of temperature change from day to day but and average temperature change of a few degrees will cause them some kind of life and death struggle. How is that even possible?

    • “current, rapid changes in temperature ”

      current, not projected but current……..less than 1 degree

    • Make the presumption first, and then act on it as if it’s reality.
      How many decades of presumption have been built up in order to get where we are today?

  2. “270 million years of data on animals shows that mammals and birds – both warm-blooded animals – may have a better chance of evolving and adapting to the Earth’s rapidly changing climate than their cold-blooded peers, reptiles and amphibians.”
    The terms “270 millions years of data” and the “earth’s rapidly changing climate” don’t appear to belong in the same sentence.

    • How much grant money does it take to find out the athlete who finished the race first is faster than all the others, or that the species that have survived the many climate shifts of the last quarter billion years are better able to adapt than the ones that perished. It’s like predicting a royal flush after the cards are shown.

      • Actually, reptiles have survived more climate shifts than other animal species. Cold blooded animals and insects will thrive even better in a warmer climate. Cold is what kills nearly all species.

      • I agree cold is a higher risk but I think the authors were not just talking about survival overall but survival in more adverse climates or locations e.g. polar or hot desert. My point is we already know the “warm blooded” species were better able to adapt and fill diverse locales compared to many “cold blooded” species which remained geographically restricted or else exterpated.

      • “Cold blooded animals and insects will thrive…….. ”

        Darn , so “climate scientists™” could be around for a long , long time. !! :-(

  3. “The planet’s climate has changed significantly throughout history”

    BURN THE WITCH ! ! ! … Sorry, I mean, DEFUND THE DENIER ! ! !

  4. I call tent seeking studies like this “Captain Obvious Studies”:
    Revisiting well established science but with a nice fungible climate hype angle appended to get the grant miney and PR exposure.

  5. Did I read this right?

    Planet was warmer => good for cold blooded animals
    Planet cooled => cold blooded animals couldn’t adapt to the cold.
    Planet will warm in future => cold blooded animals won’t be able to adapt to the warm.

    They drone on about the challenges cold blooded animals have thriving in the cold, and then conclude that they will be unable to adapt to the warmer temps that they thrive in?

  6. “It might explain why we see so few reptiles and amphibians in the Antarctic or even temperate habitats,” said Rolland. “It’s possible that they will eventually adapt and could move into these regions but it takes longer for them to change.”

    =====

    Alligators and crocodiles in Antarctica might be bad news for the penguins. The few that are there now will get much bigger or smaller and may lose their hair or grow some. Frogs will probably come from Australia as it’s just a hop away.

    • eyesonu

      Alligators and crocodiles in Antarctica might be bad news for the penguins. The few that are there now will get much bigger or smaller and may lose their hair or grow some.

      Oopsie. Alligators and crocodiles (and Komodo dragons and regular lizards and any other land-based predator) need to pack a big lunch box between penguin harvesting. The penguins leave for the water each year, and do not return to land for months – then they return, nest a little while (and are sitting targets while nesting!), then leave again.

      ANY serious land-based predator will die off between nesting seasons. But that’s OK. Any penguin colony trying to survive more than two nesting seasons on a bare rocky shore against land-based predators will die off when their eggs are eaten, their mate is eaten, and themselves are eaten.

      • Essentially correct. Penguins very rarely breed on continental shores, and the few that do are invariably burrowing species.

      • Hang on, RACook

        Polar bears are carnivorous and only eat for a few months a year. If there were enough penguins and few enough polar bears, there could be a mutual relationship developed: the penguins evolve flight and the bears learn to jump. See? Two new sub-species already.

        The bears would have to learn to burrow into the ice, absent the warmth of far northern Ontario winters.

      • RACook,

        The alligators and crocodiles that are living there now could grow more hair and feathers and flippers and evolve to include a fish diet. That would shorten their current hibernation time allowing them more time to breed and increase population. Of course I’m thinking of the short term evolution of those there now. ;-)

  7. So mammals that have thick fur like a polar bear have a better chance of surviving arctic conditions than a reptile like an alligator which has no insulating fur. … Genius!!
    Although I should point out that the gators have been around much longer than polar bears.

  8. BREAKING NEWS: Earth’s surface very likely will remain composed mostly of water in the near future, … regardless of climate change [had to throw that last part in for funding purposes]

  9. So… The phyla that survived all of the climate changes since the Mesozoic are the most likely to survive the “Anthropocene”?

  10. The more pertinent question is whether climate scientists of the warmest gobbledegook persuasion survive all the fiddled figures, adjustments, outright lies and doomster predictions when the truth finally becomes clear to all. Probably not because when the financier scammers and politicians see the game is up they will round on the Manns’, the Met Office fraudsters and the rest of the clique and say “but you said it was settled!”. Sound of career ending documents being served and hopefully a few cell doors being shut. Roll on…

  11. “It might explain why we see so few reptiles and amphibians in the Antarctic or even temperate habitats,” said Rolland. “It’s possible that they will eventually adapt and could move into these regions but it takes longer for them to change.”

    Wow! Simply had to read those two sentences several times to get my head around the stupid obviousness why Antarctica has no reptiles or amphibians. And Antarctica has been a frozen icebox for 30+ million years and still very little life other than penguins around the coasts and some birds on coastal islands and the west archipelago.
    But then it’s possible pigs might evolve wings, then shit would literally hit the fan and we’d all be in trouble.

    • Did I miss in the article where they juxtapose the vast numbers of mammalian life in the Antarctic against the “so few” numbers of reptiles?

  12. “It might explain why we see so few reptiles and amphibians in the Antarctic or even temperate habitats,” said Rolland. “It’s possible that they will eventually adapt and could move into these regions but it takes longer for them to change.”

    The Quaternary Ice Age might explain why we see so few reptiles and amphibians in Antarctica. Na, it was probably aliens wut dun it.

  13. Wait, isn’t mankind mammal???? Aren’t we then very/most likely to survive??? Oh, wait, if you are an alarmist, that’s a bad thing. Got it!

  14. Ectotherms rarely hibernate? Try telling that to the 55 species of reptiles (land turtles, lizards and snakes) and the 42 species of amphibians living in Canada. I personally know that toads hibernate because I accidently dug up one bleary-eyed individual in my vegetable garden one cold April day. I told him to go back to sleep and covered him up again.

    • hermit crabs as well. we had one come to life after being buried in the mud for 2 years. we had searched everywhere for it. very surprised when what we dug up what we thought was a rock only to have it come back to life a couple of hours later.

      • How interesting. I was digging a pipe trench in the Swaziland lowveld in 1978 and unearthed a flattish, round frog nearly a metre down in solid soil. Light in colour, short legs (didn’t really need them) and wet and soft. If it was a species of burrowing frog, it doesn’t burrow much. It appears they just sit there and wait for a bug or worm to dig their way past.

  15. Showing that warm blooded creatures can survive better in cold places proves that they can survive better in hot places???

    • This is why we know that at least some warm-blooded creatures can survive better in hot places…

  16. For example, the planet was fairly warm and tropical until 40 million years ago, making it an ideal place for many species to live. As the planet cooled
    ===================
    so global warming will make the planet ideal!!!

  17. For example, the planet was fairly warm and tropical until 40 million years ago, making it an ideal place for many species to live.
    ===========
    the UN, IPCC and Climate Scientists are hell bent on preventing the earth from becoming once again ideal.

    MEIA – Make Earth Ideal Again

  18. “It might explain why we see so few reptiles and amphibians in the Antarctic”
    Was this piece of research peer reviewed?

  19. Last night, upon a stair
    I saw a study
    The need for which simply wasn’t there
    The need wasn’t there again today
    Gee, I wish these studies would:
    GO AWAY

  20. Back when I worked as a laborer in U.S.Steel, the old time workers could spot the college kids; usually by the sheer level of ignorance and arrogant assumptions the summer employed college kids displayed.

    Jonathan Rolland would be outed almost immediately, in this regard.

    “We see that mammals and birds are better able to stretch out and extend their habitats, meaning they adapt and shift much easier,” said Jonathan Rolland, a Banting postdoctoral fellow at the biodiversity research centre at UBC and lead author of the study. “This could have a deep impact on extinction rates and what our world looks like in the future.”

    Ignoring insects, bacteria, fungi, viruses, and even reptiles and amphibians.
    Rolland mistakes slow methods of locomotion as obstacles for viability and adaptability.

    Plus, Rolland ignores what climate change is supposed to be, by the alarmists.
    Warmer is all good for most reptiles and amphibians. Alleged marine climate change is proceeding spo slowly, I doubt the wet creatures will notice.

    Notice, that Rolland has just contradicted what other panic purveyors claim; that birds and mammals can’t adapt quick enough.

    “By combining data from the current distribution of animals, fossil records and phylogenetic information for 11,465 species, the researchers were able to reconstruct where animals have lived over the past 270 million years and what temperatures they needed to survive in these regions.”

    Well well well, Rolland built his very own playground model. One that does what Rolland expects.

    Note that Rolland immediately contradicts his prior claim, “This could have a deep impact on extinction rates and what our world looks like in the future”.

    Did Rolland model the world? Or didn’t Rolland model the world?

    Then there is the odd claim Rolland makes regarding fossil records and where animals lived…
    There are very few dinosaur era fossils in the East coast of America. Not because the animals did not live here, but because the environment was not conducive to fossils.

    Many other areas of the world experienced severe erosion that removed fossiliferous layers.
    So, along comes Rolland who assumes no fossils means the critters didn’t live there.

    Even so, Rolland ignores the fossil evidence where it’s inconvenient:

    “BONES OF CROCODILE-LIKE BEASTS TELL TALE OF ARCTIC WARMING
    December 18, 1998

    Immediately after volcanoes around the world spewed carbon dioxide into the atmosphere about 90 million years ago, the Arctic was as warm as present-day Florida, according to fossil evidence discovered by a University of Rochester team in the high Canadian Arctic. The fossils indicate that at least once in Earth’s history, high amounts of the greenhouse gas warmed Earth to much higher temperatures than usual.

    The find of bones from several crocodile-like beasts known as champsosaurs, along with turtles and fish – champsosaurs’ favorite foods – is detailed in the Dec. 18 issue of Science. Analysis of the find was done by the Rochester team in collaboration with researchers from the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology in Drumheller, Alberta; the Berkeley Geochronology Center; and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego.

    The highlight of the find are bones that belonged to an eight-foot champsosaur, a now-extinct crocodile-like beast with a long snout and razor-sharp teeth. The team found bones from several champsosaurs, as well as fish and turtles, in rocks scattered over several hundred thousand to a few million years.

    The reptiles, which were tied to their freshwater environment on Axel Heiberg Island”

    “The planet’s climate has changed significantly throughout history and the researchers found that these changes have shaped where animals live. For example, the planet was fairly warm and tropical until 40 million years ago, making it an ideal place for many species to live. As the planet cooled, birds and mammals were able to adapt to the colder temperatures so they were able to move into habitats in more northern and southern regions.”

    Somewhere in Rolland’s education, he entirely missed the extinction event 65 million years ago.
    Prior to that, reptilian life dominated most environments.

    One of the surviving families of animals are birds, currently believed descended from dinosaurs. A realization that allowed paleo dinosaurs to finally accept that some reptile families may have developed warm blood systems.

    “It might explain why we see so few reptiles and amphibians in the Antarctic or even temperate habitats,” said Rolland. “It’s possible that they will eventually adapt and could move into these regions but it takes longer for them to change.”

    “Rolland explained that animals that can regulate their body temperatures, known as endotherms, might be better able to survive in these places because they can keep their embryos warm, take care of their offspring and they can migrate or hibernate.”

    Again, Rolland bases assumptions o his personal opinions. Rolland appears ignorant that many ectotherms, worldwide, build nests out of rotting vegetable matter.
    Both crocodile and alligator mothers’ keep close eyes on their nests.
    One of the reasons for this parental observation is to prevent overheating and under-heating. Nest destruction is just one end possibility; other possibilities include the next generations being all male or all female.

    • Incomplete supporting knowledge.
    • Gross assumptions and personal beliefs; i.e. massive confirmation bias.
    • Pitiful expert reviewers and reviews! (One would think at least one expert reviewer would point out the serious mistakes.
    • A confirmation bias built model.
    • Another waste of grant funds!

    It sure doesn’t sound like this character can work anywhere in industry. Those poor kids in school…

    “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” Samuel Clemens

  21. Reminds of the Monty Python skit where the esteemed scientist Anne Elk (not an elk) presented here theory to Chris the interviewer –> All dinosaurs are thin at one end, much, much thicker in the middle, and thin again at the other end. She would be a shoo-in for a grant at UBC.

  22. Upon reading the headline, my immediate thought was that insecst seem to have the upper hand when it comes to climate change.

  23. ATheoK, you are very kind to spend the amount of time you have reviewing this paper. I wonder though whether the author will ever become aware of its shortcomings. I wonder whether any of the alarmists ever become aware of the shortcomings of what they say and write.

    • There needs to be a new prize to recognize great achievements in junk ‘science’ – if one can even associate the word science with junk this bad.

      The Piltdown Prize? The Lysenko Prize? Endless possibilities. I was thinking of the Baghdad Bob Prize but that’s more appropriate for the media.

      The only problem with this idea would be choosing a winner from so many worthy candidates.

      • The prize should mention Captain Obvious and the award should mention the merits of stating what is (obvious). See? That was easy.

        Is it possible the paper is a practical joke on the peer review and publishing system? It looks like one.

  24. But only humans have the inalienable right to tax themselves based on pseudoscience, groupthink, advocacy message management, and globalist revenue need.

  25. It is true that poikilothermic species cannot adapt to arctic conditions while (a very small subset of) mammal and bird species can.

    However there is little evidence that poikilotherms are less successful or less diverse or less able to colonize new habitat than birds or mammals in other environments.

    Diversity: “Reptiles” c. 10,000 species, “Amphibians” c. 7,500 species, Birds c. 10,500 species, Mammals c. 5,500 species. Birds and mammals are much better known, so there is almost certainly many more unknown “reptiles” and “amphibians” than there are birds and mammals.

    “Reptiles” are actually much better than mammals when it comes to surviving in hostile habitats (e. g. extreme deserts, rocky areas, small islands) and also better at crossing water barriers than mammals (though of course inferior to birds in the latter case). “Amphibians” are indeed handicapped by their inability to adapt to salt water and near-total dependence on fresh water for breeding.

  26. The reason we see few reptiles and amphibians in temperate habitats are mostly that they are small and cryptic. When it comes to actual number of individuals snakes, lizards and frogs almost invariably outnumber birds and mammals.

    • ‘few reptiles and amphibians in temperate climates’? What planet are you living on? The county I live in is awash in reptiles and amphibians. I have some nice frog, toad, turtle,and snake photos. I have, in fact, a fine shot of a massive female turtle crossing the road in front of my car. She was so old that she had spikes on her tail. I thought she was someone’s escaped pet reptile when I saw her, but I realized she was a very large turtle.
      No offense meant, but you need to get out into the real world more, away from cities, tty. There is enough wildlife, amphibious and reptilian, for me to say that they outnumber us mere humans by the millions, and that’s just where I live.

    • “When it comes to actual number of individuals snakes, lizards and frogs almost invariably outnumber birds and mammals.”

      This depends ENTIRELY on exactly where you are and what the habitat is. In most of the temperate world it is false. This whole paper is built on false overgeneralizations like this.

  27. I found this interesting as a lack of insight and no real understanding of anything by the paper’s author: “The planet’s climate has changed significantly throughout history and the researchers found that these changes have shaped where animals live. For example, the planet was fairly warm and tropical until 40 million years ago, making it an ideal place for many species to live.”

    The author ignores the existence of spenodontia, a warm-blooded reptilian genus related to dinosaurs, of which there are two remaining species still alive (and endangered because they are egg-layers) and native to New Zealand. And no, they are NOT iguanas.

    If he had said ‘genera’ (multiple of genus), instead of ‘species’, I might pay more attention to what he tries to say. Spiders and horseshoe crabs, for instance are related to each other, but spiders (with a few exceptions) are land dwellers and horseshoe crabs are comfortable both on land and in the ocean. He ignores this. In fact, he seems to ignore all insects and their role in making the planet what it is and always has been – habitable. He has also ignored the odd but interesting Weta, a New Zealand cricket that has the ability to survive cold weather by its immunity to freezing to death, as well as the simple fact that there are many, many fish species that thrive in extremely cold water because they carry a built-in antifreeze in their blood.

    Likewise, he has failed to account for the longest living critters (other than bacteria) on the planet, the coelacanth, which was thought to be extinct, but is not, and ALL sharks, which go back 600 million years and swim in all water temperatures. Granted, warm water holds less oxygen, therefore sharks are more comfortable in cooler water, but.they are everywhere on this planet and will probably be the last survivors.

    It’s a paper that fails because the author ignores real biology in his rather hamhanded pursuit of getting published. I will politely term it ‘baloney’, and I think that turkeys are smarter than he is.

    • Right you are Sara. But “baloney” is too kind. Like this completely braindead over-generalization:

      “For example, the planet was fairly warm and tropical until 40 million years ago, making it an ideal place for many species to live.”

      It was “ideal” for species adapted to “fairly warm and tropical” environments but not for the rest. This whole paper is nothing but a selective collection of similarly ridiculous generalizations… like “birds.” Do they mean parrots or penguins? LOL.

      • The earth today is partially warm and tropical, partially temperate and partially subarctic to arctic (cold and not tropical) – “making it an ideal place for many species to live.”

    • Sara: thanks for the name and idea of looking to New Zealand. Spenodontia and warm blooded and have three eyes and cat-like irises! That is downright amazing.

  28. This ‘study’ is a perfect example just how far the grant-funded stupidity of the CAGW Crisis Industry has gone. Totally useless ‘research.’

    On the other hand, this could be turned into a fun computer game which could add unicorns and dragons to the imaginary world of CAGW.

  29. ‘Mammals and birds could have best shot at surviving climate change’

    There’s got to be a line there but I can’t think of it.
    “Mammals that fool bird brains have the best shot at profiting from ‘climate change'”?
    I’m sure that someone can come up with something better.

  30. Birds from Siberia travel thousands of kilometers and nest in India — including where I live — and go back with their newborns. “Seasonal migration”. Before industrialization people used to move away for food and come back.

    Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

    • Actually it is the other way around. They breed in Siberia and winter in India. There are known cases of birds that occasionally breed in both places but it is extremely rare.
      For insect eaters the northern forests are a very good place in summer, not so much in winter.

  31. The researchers didn’t mention anything about the size of the animals that can adapt to climate change, either warming or cooling.

    If the entire earth had a tropical climate during the age of dinosaurs, then there was ample vegetation for herbivores to eat, which provided lots of prey for carnivorous dinosaurs.

    But after the cooling of the polar and temperate regions, there was not enough vegetation to support large animals in those areas, not only reptiles but also mammals. The largest existing mammals, such as elephants, giraffes, and hippopotamuses only live in tropical areas (other than in zoos), since they could not find enough food to get through a winter. Some large predatory mammals can survive in temperate regions, such as bears (which hibernate in winter), wolves, and mountain lions, but these are smaller than elephants and hippos. Smaller, plant eating mammals such as rabbits, squirrels, mice, and deer are abundant in temperate areas, since they can survive on less food.

    The same is true of reptiles–the largest ones live in the tropics (such as crocodiles, alligators, pythons, and boa constrictors), while smaller lizards, salamanders, and snakes can find enough food in temperate regions.

    Birds are somewhat the exception, because of their ability to breed in temperate regions during the warm season and fly to tropical areas to spend the winter. But flying birds are limited in how large they can grow, since a bird’s wing area (and the lift it can develop) is proportional to the square of its length, while its weight is proportional to the cube of its length, so that an excessively large bird will have trouble getting its weight airborne. It is also noted that the large flightless birds such as ostriches and emus only live in warm climates.

    Penguins are also an exception, but they spend most of their time in water, where they are excellent swimmers, but they are very vulnerable to predators on land, which is why they tend to breed in cold areas where very few predators can survive.

    The correct conclusion is that smaller reptiles and mammals can adapt better to a cold climate than larger ones. If the future climate of temperate regions becomes warmer, wouldn’t we see large tropical animals (including alligators and crocodiles) spreading into temperate regions?

  32. Is there a paper publishing quota that needs to be met or something?
    Someone should put out a paper on how rocks might be affected by climate change!

  33. The University of British China can’t hold a candle to the loons at SFU . Carbon tax promoters willing to completely BS the public about the “tax neutral ” fleecing of tax payers and the fake effects of ripping people off through their scam . Businesses … why would you stay in BC if you didn’t need to? Like selling
    real-estate to money laundering , low taxed Asians and shafting a whole generation of kids .
    Hundreds of millions laundered through BC government licenced casino’s with full provincial knowledge and with the government as a partner year after year .
    Disgusting .

  34. Hi Anthony,

    I just loved this article! As a former high school teacher, I know well the study mistakes students make – esp. studying what you already know.

    Every time I mentioned this mistake to a student and/or parent it was like an epiphany. Oh, and telling students about this study mistake needs to be done individually. Students who make this mistake don’t hear the suggestion when told to the entire class.

    I always suggested that students list what they know (yes, handwrite the list!), put a check by it (give credit to yourself which gives confidence), and then move on!

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