Science

Arctic Shrew Shows Effects Of Climate Change

By Rodney Rafols , Jan 14, 2017 01:38 AM EST
An iceberg in the Arctic, circa 1955. (Photo : Donald B. McMillan/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Climate change is affecting many living things. These effects are now showing up in some species. Animals such as the arctic shrew show effects of climate change already.

The shrew population is changing as climate change happens. Two types of shrew have been studied. One type is the masked shrew and the barren ground shrew. The masked shrew's habitat has been seen to be expanding, while the barren ground shrew's habitat has slowly been shrinking.

Andrew Hope, assistant professor in the Division of Biology at the Kansas State University and his colleagues see the shrew, along with the parasites and pathogens that go along with it, to be the new indicators on how climate change is affecting the world. The changes in shrew population can be good indicators as to how far climate change is now.

The research has looked into data found in museums to study how shrew population together with their parasites react to climate change. Getting data though would not be easy, as it would mean taking shrew parts as well. That means collecting samples from bones, organs and even parasites in order to get a complete data.

Hope has explained that small animals could be good indicators of climate change as they are in almost all parts of the world. They could easily be studied to see how climate change might be affecting them, according to the Kansas State University site. Larger animals are harder to get samples and study since many of them migrate.

Samples taken from shrews sold in ethanol in labs can also be taken, as Science Daily reports. The samples there could then be compared to samples taken from shrews in the environment. A comparison could also be done for any parasite that the shrew has.

From the data so far gathered, Hope and his colleagues see the masked shrew to be expanding its habitat while the barren ground shrew would have its habitat further shrink in the future. The researchers have used data both from climate information and data collected from 1981 to 2010.

Small animals can be used to see how climate change is today. The arctic shrew shows effects of climate change. In Australia, feral cats are taking over.

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