It may be nice for us not to have to bundle up every day this winter, but for the wildlife in Southwestern Ontario, it poses some difficulties.
London has experienced it’s warmest January in 11 years, and Pete Ewins from WWF Canada says it’s the frequency and intensity of average temperature changes that causes habitat, food source, and mating patterns to be thrown off course.
“Animal populations can tolerate those things once in a while as a rare occurrence, but what we’re seeing with continuing rapid climate change as regular events like this, after a certain point species lead into decline because they just can’t handle the extra mortality that comes with that.”
Ewins says one of the biggest questions in the scientific world now is whether migratory species will be able arrive back in time for the rapidly advancing timing of the flowering of their food sources.
“The timing of migration has to be synchronized with the timing of the big flash of plant and insect abundance occurs in our higher latitudes. If that becomes asynchronous and these animals leave two weeks late now, then by the time they get here they’ll have missed that first big wave of available food and energy.”
Not all species lose out though. Species such as the deer tick or turkey vulture, who thrive in warmer climates, are able to migrate here and stay for longer periods of time.
Others aren’t so lucky. It’s projected that in the next coming decades, polar bears will become extinct.
Ewins says the solution is “rapidly reducing our human emissions of greenhouse gases. We actually know how to do that, we just need to prioritize it among business and government leaders.”