Research shows climate change could push bats northward

July 22, 2002

Traditionally, biological research into the effects of climate change has focussed on the changes that have already occurred.

What's really necessary, however, is a method to anticipate the effects that climate change will have in the future. A University of Alberta researcher is part of a team that has developed one tool to do just that.

Biologist Murray Humphries, of the University of Alberta and the University of Aberdeen, co-authored a paper with Profs. John Speakman and Donald Thomas that appears in the most recent issue of Nature magazine. Their research predicts that climate change will cause the northern limit of the winter range of the North American little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) to extend northward by approximately 5 km per year over the next century.

First, the researchers established a direct link between the hibernation physiology of the bats and their habitat distribution in northern regions.

In short, little brown bats can only hibernate in regions where winters are sufficiently short and warm to allow autumn fat reserves to last until spring.

Once that link was established, they used existing climate change projections for northern Canada to estimate how the hibernation conditions faced by bats will change in the future.

Comparing the two sets of information, they predicted that as North American winters get warmer and shorter, bats' existing capabilities to store fat for hibernation will allow them to expand their northern ranges by approximately 5 kilometres per year.

Researchers often face difficulties predicting the effects of climate change because of the sheer complexity of factors involved.

This research shows that, for at least one component of an ecosystem, basic physiological processes can be used to predict the effects of climate change.

Furthermore, this research also makes clear how even small changes in temperature can have dramatic changes on animal distributions.

University of Alberta

Related Climate Change Articles from Brightsurf:

Are climate scientists being too cautious when linking extreme weather to climate change?
Climate science has focused on avoiding false alarms when linking extreme events to climate change.

Mysterious climate change
New research findings underline the crucial role that sea ice throughout the Southern Ocean played for atmospheric CO2 in times of rapid climate change in the past.

Mapping the path of climate change
Predicting a major transition, such as climate change, is extremely difficult, but the probabilistic framework developed by the authors is the first step in identifying the path between a shift in two environmental states.

Small change for climate change: Time to increase research funding to save the world
A new study shows that there is a huge disproportion in the level of funding for social science research into the greatest challenge in combating global warming -- how to get individuals and societies to overcome ingrained human habits to make the changes necessary to mitigate climate change.

Sub-national 'climate clubs' could offer key to combating climate change
'Climate clubs' offering membership for sub-national states, in addition to just countries, could speed up progress towards a globally harmonized climate change policy, which in turn offers a way to achieve stronger climate policies in all countries.

Review of Chinese atmospheric science research over the past 70 years: Climate and climate change
Over the past 70 years since the foundation of the People's Republic of China, Chinese scientists have made great contributions to various fields in the research of atmospheric sciences, which attracted worldwide attention.

A CERN for climate change
In a Perspective article appearing in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Tim Palmer (Oxford University), and Bjorn Stevens (Max Planck Society), critically reflect on the present state of Earth system modelling.

Fairy-wrens change breeding habits to cope with climate change
Warmer temperatures linked to climate change are having a big impact on the breeding habits of one of Australia's most recognisable bird species, according to researchers at The Australian National University (ANU).

Believing in climate change doesn't mean you are preparing for climate change, study finds
Notre Dame researchers found that although coastal homeowners may perceive a worsening of climate change-related hazards, these attitudes are largely unrelated to a homeowner's expectations of actual home damage.

Older forests resist change -- climate change, that is
Older forests in eastern North America are less vulnerable to climate change than younger forests, particularly for carbon storage, timber production, and biodiversity, new research finds.

Read More: Climate Change News and Climate Change Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to