Two seperate scientific studies have revealed that global warming is leading to significant reductions in the size of sheep and fish species, more evidence that climate change is forcing a huge range of species to adapt to a hotter world.
The first study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, investigated fish populations in French rivers and the Baltic Sea and discovered that fish are shrinking as their habitats heat up.
Results show that average fish size in many French rivers have declined over the last thirty years, while the geographical range of tiddlers in the Baltic expanded as species such as herring and sprat also shrunk.
A major outcome of the work is further conclusive evidence that smaller body size is the third universal ecological response to climate change, along with a shift of species to higher latitudes and altitudes and changes in when animals give birth, nest and other seasonal life cycles.
According to joint-author Martin Daufresne of the Leibniz Institute for Marine Science in Kiel, Germany, “Temperature actually plays a major role in driving changes in the size structure of populations and communities.”
In a related study, scientists have also reported that sheep on a Scottish island are shrinking from one generation to the next as their habitat heats up. This is because they need to eat less during their early months to survive shorter and milder winters.
Image Credit – jule berlin on flickr