Climate change benefits marmots
A study co-authored by Dan Blumstein, Chair of the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology department, is profiled by PhysOrg.
Nature, one of the world's foremost scientific journals, will publish results of a decades-long research project founded at the University of Kansas showing that mountain rodents called marmots are growing larger, healthier and more plentiful in response to climate change. Established by Kenneth Armitage, KU professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology, the long-standing investigation tracks yellow-bellied marmots in Colorado.
"The warming results in earlier snowmelt, which means that plants appear sooner and the marmots come out of hibernation earlier," said Armitage. He continued, "They have more fat left which provides them energy to start foraging. Then they can start reproducing so their young are born earlier and have time to get fat enough to survive hibernation. Most importantly, the reproductive female can survive better. Being able to wean her young earlier, she has a longer season and survival of adult females has increased over the last years."
The climate-change findings result from collaboration between a number of international researchers who used fieldwork by Armitage to underpin their analyses. Both Arpat Ozgul, lead author of the study from Imperial College London, and Dan Blumstein, a co-author from the University of California-Los Angeles, previously have worked with Armitage on the marmot project.
To read the full article on PhysOrg.com click here.
Published: Wednesday, July 21, 2010