The effects of climate change on fauna and flora across the globe are more and more evident – the Pika has changed its range, and may disappear, sea stars have been visited by a withering collapse in population, insects from bark beetles to mosquitoes are inhabiting new territories, bringing disease to humans and destruction to forests. And close to home, the ocean temperature recently hit the highest temperature ever recorded.
As our changing climate provides a natural laboratory for examining how organisms evolve adaptations to environmental extremes, Scripps’ Oceanography’s Ron Burton asks: can evolution keep up with rapid climate change or are most species likely to go extinct as temperatures rise?
Ron shares about the cutting-edge genetic tools he uses to understand how populations of tidepool animals cope with rapid temperature changes and how evolution has shaped those responses across the geographic range of each species.
Domestic cats in America kill millions, maybe even hundreds of millions of song birds each year.
It is estimated that one third of all song bird species are declining in the United States. If this pattern continues, people will eventually be forced to take sides on which animals existence is more important.
This is just one example Robert Wiese, Chief Life Sciences Officer at the San Diego Zoo, gives to illustrate the way humans interfere with the ebb and flow of animal populations. He discusses what happens when people introduce foreign species to an unfamiliar ecosystem with no natural predators and why it’s important to maintain checks and balances in populations.
If humans cause the decline in a species’ population, are they responsible to restore it? With success stories like the captive breeding program of the California Condor, we know that it is possible to save species from extinction. But at what cost?