CLIMATE CHANGE PUSHES ANIMALS TO THE LIMIT

Animals are as sensitive to temperature changes as humans, if not more so. Think about how bad you feel when you have a fever. They also suffer this kind of discomfort as a result of climate change.

One of the main consequences of climate change is the general increase in temperature, caused mainly by the effects of human activity on the environment.

Have you noticed that it is getting hotter and hotter? Summers now last on average five weeks longer than during the 1980s. Areas of the Iberian Peninsula that used to have a Mediterranean climate, such as the Ebro Valley, are now more and more semi-arid.

And animals are sensitive to these changes. Each species has a series of climatic conditions (humidity, temperature) in which they feel at ease, but global warming is altering these patterns.

“Climate change is pushing many species to the limit. They lack water to drink or suffer temperatures in which they are not comfortable,” explains David Vieites, director of the Department of Biogeography and Global Change of the National Museum of Natural Sciences (MNCN), a CSIC institution.

Adapt, leave or perish

When the weather conditions are unfavorable to the extreme, the animals have three options: adapt to the new habitat, leave or perish.

For example, some daytime animals switch to nighttime activity because they are more comfortable at night, when temperatures drop.

Other animals choose to change their migration patterns and move north in search of lower temperatures, or do the opposite and stop migrating.

This is the case of storks. They used to go to Africa to spend the winter, where temperatures are higher. Now, however, fewer and fewer storks are making the journey because winters are becoming milder on the Iberian Peninsula and they do not see the need to migrate south.

The animals that do not manage to adapt to the rapid change of climate conditions, nor can they migrate, die. This is the case of the Andalusian bull or the capercaillie, two species of birds whose existence in Spain is in danger.

The capercaillie is on the verge of extinction in the Iberian Peninsula. Less than 1,500 specimens survive in Spain, according to the environmental NGO SEO/Birdlife. There are different causes, but one of the main ones is the increase in temperature.