Effects of Global Warming on Animals Essay
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In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has initiated various environmental campaigns to gradually resolve the increasing impacts of climate change towards the environment (Silverstein et. al. , 2003 p. 5). The public’s increased attention to such problem is not anymore surprising as it threatens every creature with potentially devastating consequences. However, the subjects of animal health have received lesser attention compared to the economic, industrial and social impacts of climatic changes brought by global warming (Sherman, 2002 p. 204).
According to Root, Price and Hall et al.
(2003), the primary concern of ecologists is the rapid increase of climatic change consistently altering the natural ecology of wildlife in various ecosystems. Based on the annual measurement of atmospheric carbon dioxide (ACO) concentrations, two major signals depicting dramatic ecological patterns have been observed, namely (1) “seasonal cycle that reflects the metabolism of terrestrial ecosystems in the northern hemisphere”, and (2) “accelerating increase in tropospheric concentrations of ACO since 1957” (Vitousek, 1994).
As supported by various studies (Root, Price and Hall et al. , 2003; Vitousek, 1994; Tylianakis, Didham and Bascompte et al. , 2008), global warming effects, namely (1) increases in temperature, (2) alteration of food chains, and (3) atmospheric gas imbalances, dramatically affect the conditions of animal kingdom. II. Literature Review a. Global Warming: Ecological Imbalance The basic principle of global warming consists of the accumulation of radiation energy from the sun resulting to the warming of the planet’s surface (Houghton, 2004 p. 14).
Based on 688 published studies on global warming, the three major environmental impacts affecting the ecological systems of animals and plants are (1) temperature changes, (2) alterations of animal symbiotic relationships, and (3) imbalances in the atmospheric gases (Tylianakis, Didham and Bascompte et al. , 2008). Based on the study of Root, Price and Hall et al. (2003), global temperature has increased to approximately 0. 6 degree C since 1880s, and projected to increase consistently with the coming generations.
The continuous alterations of climate may be due to the three following reasons: (1) sunspot cycles, (2) volcanic eruptions producing large quantities of fine ash in the air, and (3) the occurrence of El Nino Southern Oscillation (Gupta, 1998 p. 86). In the literary reviews of Root, Price and Hall et al. (2003) using 143 different studies, majority of the studies reveal the endangering situations of approximately 80% of species that are now gradually adjusting to various ecosystems due to the physiological constraints brought by ecologic changes. In fact, according to the study of Thomas, Cameron and Green et al.
(2004), animal habitats and survival expectations have been altered by the effects of global warming increasing the projected extinction risks to approximately 20% among the sample ecosystems, namely Queensland, Mexico, South Africa, Amazonia and Europe. b. Increases in Temperature With the advent of modernization, auto engines, power plants, industrial mills, and residential heating systems burn coal, oil, or natural gas accounting to 98% of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere, while the other 2% id due to the increased deforestation and mining (Tomera, 2001 p. 113).
According to Root, Price and Hall et al. (2003), rapid temperature increases and ecological stresses brought by the alterations of ecosystems are disrupting the natural communities of various species, which lead to forced adaptations of species, numerous extirpations and possible extinctions. As supported by the study of Pounds, Bustamante and Coloma et al. (2006), one example of massive animal extinctions occurred in the mountains of Costa Rica wiping 67% of the various 110 species of Atelopus, such as harlequin frog (Atelopus Sp. ) and golden toad (bufo periglenes) and pathogenic chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis), which are endemic to American tropical habitats. In a study conducted by Penuelas, Fillela and Comast (2002), life cycles in a Mediterranean environment (Cardedeu, NE Spain) has been observed from 1952 to 2000 in order to determine possible alterations in the ecosystems and increasing climate changes. With the temperature increase amounting to ?
1. 4 degree C (1952 to 2000), results reveal significant phonological alterations among the different species of animals (e. g. spring migratory birds arriving 15 days later in 2000 compared 1952, etc. ). Noting the mentioned temperature increase in the latter study, Hanson, Sato and Ruedy (2006) suggest that a relative increase of ? 1 degree C is likely to affect the sea levels and exterminate various species. c. Symbiotic Relationships: Predisposing Species Extinction Temperature, climate, and gas imbalances are the leading global warming effects altering the different levels of ecologic symbiosis.
The rise of global temperature affects the geographical distribution of ectothermic animals, decomposers and mostly those with lesser thermal tolerance (Portner, 2001). For example, thermally intolerant metazoans and other decomposers have markedly shown increase mitochondrial oxygen demand parallel to the rise of temperature, which resulted to the reduction of their population (Portner, 2001). Using species-area and endemic-area relationships, Malcolm, Liu and Neilson et al.
(2006) have identified the projected percent extinctions of sample biodiversities (Cape Floristic Region, Caribbean, Indo-Burma, Australia, and Tropical Andes, etc.) ranging from <1 to 43% of the endemic biota (averaging to 11. 6%). Various etiologies derived from disrupted ecological symbiosis explain these projections. Most commonly, the imbalance atmospheric gases and high temperature result to the increased growth of plants with insufficient nutrition brought by low organic property of soil (Kirschbaum, 1995).
With the low-nutrient composts, decomposers may gradually decrease disrupting the normal ecosystem-level cycling (Vitousek, 1994). In addition to decomposer disruptions, the study of Kirschbaum (1995) has suggested a marked loss of over 10% of organic soil for every 1 degree C increase in temperature due to the dramatic destruction of temperature-sensitive organic decomposers in different regions globally. These data implies that the increasing trend of temperature rise and gaseous imbalances can dramatically contribute to the extinction of different species.