BITS ‘N’ PIECES
The world’s reefs are losing coral faster than ever before, and yes, we humans are to blame. But the good news is: when we can give coral a chance, it’s actually resilient — and it can thrive. Coral scientist, Kristen Marhaver, saw this firsthand when she went diving near the north shore of Curaçao. There, she saw 1,000-year-old corals lined up one after the other, corals that had lived through European colonialism and were now contending with climate change. She says she cried under water. In her TED Talk, Marhaver shares how these magnificent organisms reproduce and the methods she’s developed to help them survive their fragile, early days of life. While many reefs have been damaged by warming waters and ocean acidification, they *can* bounce back — but they need some help from us. “An individual coral can go through tremendous trauma and fully recover if it’s given a chance and it’s given protection.” says Marhaver. “Corals have always been playing the long game, and now so are we.”
Warm-blooded animals are getting larger beaks, legs and ears to adapt to a hotter climate and to better regulate their temperature.
When animals overheat, birds use their beaks and mammals use their ears to disperse the warmth. Some creatures in warmer climates have historically evolved to have larger beaks or ears to get rid of heat more easily. These differences are becoming more pronounced as the climate warms.
If animals fail to control their body temperature, they can overheat and die. Beaks, which are not covered by feathers and therefore not insulated, are a site of significant heat exchange, as are ears, tails and legs in mammals if not covered by fur.
The review, published in the journal Trends in Ecology & Evolution, found that the differences are particularly pronounced in birds.
The author of the study, Sara Ryding of Deakin university, a bird researcher, said: “Shapeshifting does not mean that animals are coping with climate change and that all is fine.
“It just means they are evolving to survive it – but we’re not sure what the other ecological consequences of these changes are, or indeed that all species are capable of changing and surviving.”
While the scientists say it is difficult to pinpoint climate breakdown as the sole cause of the shapeshifting, it is what the instances studied have in common across geographical regions and across a diverse array of species.
Examples include several species of Australian parrot that have shown a 4-10% increase in bill size since 1871, positively correlated with the summer temperature each year.