Study: 'Spring Creep' is Hurting Ecology

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., May 6 (UPI) — The Union of Concerned Scientists says human-induced warming is causing spring to arrive earlier than normal, posing a major threat to plants and animals.

The organization says spring is arriving about 10 days earlier than usual, and while it’s not difficult for people to adjust, “spring creep” can create mismatches when some plants bud earlier and the animals that depend on them haven’t adjusted their internal clocks.

For example, researchers said bees might fly to an area that provide habitat for plants they historically pollinate only to find the plants already have bloomed.

In a recent telephone briefing sponsored by the Union of Concerned Scientists, Jake Weltzin, the executive director of the National Phenology Network and an ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, said in a number of states, caterpillars, which in the past would have been eaten by migratory birds, are now falling to the ground before the birds show up.

That’s not only bad for the birds, Weltzin said, but a recent study found thousands of grazing pregnant mares in the Ohio River Valley ingested the caterpillars, causing them to abort their fetuses.

But the UCS said even if all global warming emissions stopped today, the planet would still experience more climate changes because carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases remain in the atmosphere for decades.

The organization says our near-term choices about energy, transportation and land use will not stop climate change, but they will determine its extent and severity.

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Categorized | Animals, Birds, Other, Transportation
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