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Effects of Global Warming on Animal Behavior

written by: Sandy Samra•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 5/18/2011

The real cause of global warming is the thoughtless attitude of humans towards the environment. Global warming is causing irreversible changes in the ecosystem and animal behavior. Read this article to gauge the effects of global warming on animal behavior.

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    Global warming, also known as climate change, is an increase in Earth’s average temperature. Humans have largely contributed towards global warming by increasing greenhouse gas emissions, which remain trapped in the Earth’s atmosphere, altering climate patterns and temperatures. Numerous studies have revealed that the Earth is changing in unnatural ways. It has gotten 14% hotter than the average 50 years ago. Such a shift in the climate has increased stress on humans, plants and animals. As a result, plants and animals have become endangered. We explore the affects of global warming on animal behavior in this article.

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    Effects of Global Warming on Animal Behavior


    The effects of global warming on animal behavior are large. Global warming is expected to cause an irreversible change and alteration in the ecosystem. Due to the rising temperatures, glaciers are receding at an alarming rate and changing the environment of the mountains as well as oceans. Penguins are at risk as their habitat is being threatened by melting glaciers. Melting polar ice is affecting the life of many animals and tiny organisms that larger creatures feed on for survival. Rise in water temperatures is significantly affecting the marine life. Many species will eventually die or become extinct and the ones that prefer warmer water will increase in number.

    Animal species that hibernate throughout winters end their hibernation sooner than normal due to intense climatic changes. Marmots, brown and polar bears are breaking their hibernation earlier than normal. This disruption from normal hibernation could mean life or death for these species.

    One of the most evident effects of global warming on animal behavior is habitat loss. Due to rising temperatures, plants and trees are not growing properly. The animal species that depend on plants and trees are suffering from losing some or all of their habitats. Expansion of the world’s deserts and changes in the coastlines due to rising sea levels are edging out other environments and affecting their animal population. Increasing water levels are also threatening to submerge tropical islands and forests that are populated with many animals.

    Migration patterns of many animal species have also been affected. One of the reasons for change in migration patterns is loss of habitat at either end of the migratory route. Another reason for change is that some animals are traveling farther towards higher altitudes in search of colder climates, invading the territory of already established species. Many animals cover long distances to reach warmer climates for breeding purposes. However, the devastation of migratory route or loss of habitat has forced these species to either change or not migrate at all. The same is happening for aquatic animals.

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    Global warming has also affected the food supplies of many animal species. Trees and plants are bearing fruits either too early or too late, animals dependant of them are starving to death. Many small organisms and fishes are either dying or moving to safer environments due to climatic changes. The larger animals dependant of them are suffering from loss of food supplies. Global warming has disturbing the entire food chain.

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    Species Affected by Global Warming

    piv via washingtonpost The very source of nature is ‘Change’, but this change in environment is happening too fast, making it difficult for animals to adapt to it effectively. This ‘change’ can cost us our wildlife. Many species have become endangered, if not extinct. The following are some of the most vulnerable ones.

    • Melting ice is bad news for Polar bears. It has affected their habitat and their food supplies.
    • Antarctic’s melting glaciers and rising ocean temperatures have endangered the Blue Whale, Southern Right Whale, Tristan Albatross, Amsterdam Albatross and the Antarctic Tern.
    • Penguins are facing problems due to melting sea ice. Rising temperatures have affected their food chain and breeding habits.
    • Trout and other cold-water fishes are losing their homes due to rise in water temperatures.
    • Changing seasons have altered the birth cycle of many species, like the Caribou. Their birth season normally takes place at peak food availability, but global warming has caused the timing to be off, thereby endangering them.
    • Thick furred Antarctic Fox are suffering from habitat loss due to rising temperatures.
    • Canadian Red Squirrels are breeding about eighteen days earlier due to global warming.
    • Loggerhead sea turtles are laying eggs ten days earlier and more females are being born. This is threatening their population.
    • Salamanders are on the verge of extinction, all thanks to global warming.

    The effects of global warming will have serious repercussions on the entire life circle. Life on this Earth thrives because animals, plants and humans depend on each other for survival. Any link broken will drastically affect the life on Earth. Therefore, we human beings should wake up and spark the change by working towards reducing the effects of global warming.

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