animal kingdom

I just wanted to chuck one more impact out there, something i read in the news this week. In Alaska we have just seen tens of thousands of Walruses come shore because the sea ice they normally rest on has melted. This massive move to shore by Walruses is unusual in the United States, but it has happened at least twice before, in 2007 and 2009, when Arctic ice was at or near record lows. Alaskan biologist Anthony Fischbach said it is likely we will see more summers like this, as there is no sign of recovery in Arctic*1.

Even if the sea ice is recovered in future years and the Walrus patterns return to normal, we must acknowledge that climate change is bound to affect the migration patterns and behaviours of many animal and insect species. And it is tough to predict the flow on effect of these changes on species extinction rates and our human populations. So I spoke with Nigel Andrew, an Entomologist and expert in insect-climate interactions to find out more:

“It’s the fact that they may go extinct and we don’t know why. We are putting very extreme pressure on these species. Species go extinct and evolve all the time but the fact that we are increasing the extinction rate so quickly over a short period of times means we could have an effect on our own health. Biodiversity is an indication of ecosystems health. Every time you lose a species you take e little resilience out o the ecosystem. You don’t necessarily miss it per se, but over time more and more go extinct and this could have a big effect in ways we don’t understand yet. We need to follow the precautionary principles; if you don’t understand what the negative impacts are, you have to minimise change.”

“It’s important we try to work out what species are out there and what function they play and then try to understand what linkage might or might not be lost”*2.

*1 Melting sea ice forces walruses shore in Alaska by an unknown source.

*2 One Minute With… Nigel Andrew by Katy Bairstow. Article available upon request.

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