Climate change – who can keep up?

Evolution has no forethought. An artic fox turns white at a particular time in winter due to the selection pressures experienced by its ancestors. This adaptation helped foxes in the past blend into the snowy background and more easily disguise themselves from prey. But what if timing of first snowfall starts to move later and later into the year or becomes more unpredictable? This is a question of phenology, the … Continue reading

A Contemplation of Mixed Metaphors and Global Change

“Come gather ’round people Wherever you roam And admit that the waters Around you have grown And accept it that soon You’ll be drenched to the bone If your time to you Is worth savin’ Then you better start swimmin’ Or you’ll sink like a stone For the times they are a-changin’. “ – Bob Dylan, “The Times They Are A-changin’ “ (1964)   Oh Bob, if we only knew … Continue reading

Changing world, changing interactions

When I think of how a species might be affected by global change, I tend to focus first on the abiotic: distribution maps predicting species range shifts based on temperature and precipitation come to mind. But obviously it’s more complicated than that—global change is bound to affect biotic factors as well, particularly interactions between species. This makes predicting the consequences of global change more complicated. If species A interacts with … Continue reading

Race to the Top: Shifting Ranges and Species Interactions

As temperatures increase with climate change, species are expected to expand their ranges to higher latitudes, where it will be warm enough for them to survive. Similarly, many species are predicted to move up in elevation as higher altitudes experience warmer temperatures—we know that some have already started to do so. But we also know that some species can shift their ranges in response to temperature change more quickly than … Continue reading