Climate Change causing Shrinkage in Appalachia‘s Salamanders (Austrian Tribune)

Submitted by Annika Linser on Wed, 03/26/2014 – 08:18

Climate change is not the only bane of human beings but is troubling salamanders too. A new report, published in Global Change Biology, revealed that climate change is causing salamanders in Appalachia to shrink as the amphibians are forced to burn more energy to ensure their survival.

The report said salamanders caught in the Appalachian Mountains since 1980 have become on average 8% smaller than museum specimens caught before then.

Due to increase in temperature, salamanders have to expend more energy and it is not a hidden fact that expending more energy makes every species smaller. The rate at which the salamander has shrunk is the largest and the fastest ever recorded in any animal, said University of Maryland professor Karen Lips.

First warnings over the same were reported by David Bickford of the National University of Singapore in a paper published in Nature Climate Change in 2011. He wrote, “The observed and expected patterns of decreased body size are widespread across different taxa, and are likely to be reported from an increasingly wide array of taxa over the coming century”.

He named at least 30 mammals, birds, frogs, and plants that suffered shrinkage because of climate change, whereas another 9 species showed some growth because of the phenomenon.

Lips said that is it not made certain yet that why and how it is happening, but their data clearly shows that it is correlated with climate change. Whatever the reason is, the timing is certainly not good as salamanders and other amphibians are already in distress, with some species reaching extinction and others experiencing huge decline in numbers.

Lips and her colleagues found six salamander species shrunk significantly and only one got slightly larger between 1957 and 2012. On an average, each generation of salamander was 1% smaller than its parent’s generation.

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