Climate Change: Vertebrates During Ice Age Failed To Adapt

The last Ice Age has hit many animal species hard. With its climate change, many animals faced survival challenges and had to adapt. A number of vertebrate during the Ice Age failed to adapt, which led to their demise.

In the last Ice Age, much of life faced a very harsh climate. Much of the Earth was covered by vast ice sheets. Survival was very hard then. To study how animals adapted to that time, researchers from different universities looked into the genetic composition of the animals of that time. Different animals were studied, ranging from birds, mammals, turtles and a host of other animals.

There has been a notion that animals would respond in the same way when the climate changes. That, however, has not happened. Researchers found that tetrapods responded differently to climate change. Frank Burbrink is the lead author of the study and the associate curator of the Department of Herpetology at the American Museum of Natural History. He has observed that the changes in the environment are imprinted in the animal's genomes.

Population expansion and contraction have effects on the genomes of animals as well. With a population expansion, there are more genetic differences. A smaller population would have fewer genetic differences. That difference has led to some animals being able to adapt more successfully than others.

This is seen in the group of tetrapods that have been studied, according to the American Museum of Natural History's site. About 75 percent of the tetrapods then had a population expansion. However, only 50 percent of that number expanded together. 25 percent of that had experienced a shrinking of its population.

This shows that even within one species, one group can respond differently to changes from another group. This has determined which species will likely survive through adaptation. Co-author Brain T. Smith, assistant curator of the Department of Ornithology said that this shows species do not move as one unit. Factors such as rapid temperature changes can affect them, as Science Daily reports.

Climate change affects different animals in different ways. This has been shown by how some vertebrates during the Ice Age failed to adapt. Another animal group, the marsupials, have faced climate change but are now facing challenges to survival.

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