Key to identifying the species most threatened by climate change

2024/03/11 Galarraga Aiestaran, Ana - Elhuyar Zientzia Iturria: Elhuyar aldizkaria

Andalusian sp. Trilobita, taken in Morocco and currently at the museum in New Jersey. Ed. Skye McDavid/CC BY-SA-4.0

Researchers at Oxford University, based on the fossil record, have tried to identify variables that can lead to the loss of animal species due to climate change. The conclusions published in the journal Science confirm that animals with a higher probability of survival are species that occupy a large geographical area.

Researchers have analyzed more than 290,000 fossils out of 9,200 genera to learn the key variables for coping with climate changes, such as the temperature margin needed to survive. Thus, an increased risk of extinction has been observed for species experiencing major climatic changes. For example, species that have undergone a change of more than 7°C during geological times are those with the highest risk of extinction.

In addition, animals adapted to extreme climates such as poles and those living in a reduced temperature range (15 °C) are particularly vulnerable. Small bodies are also lost more easily than large ones.

On the other hand, they emphasize that the influence of these variables increases, that is, if more than one species is affected by a given species, the risk is higher than that which affects them.

According to researchers, the study serves to know the most vulnerable species today and to design strategies for their protection.


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