Warming climate could stunt size of species: study news
19 October 2011

According to researchers, warmer and drier weather causes plants and animals to shrink in size, and greater rainfall variability raises the risk of failed crop years.
They say, the past century had seen a decline in the size of animals including toads, tortoises, blue tits, Soay sheep and red deer.

The change could adversely impact the expanding human population, with major food sources like fish reducing in size and crops expected to grow smaller and less reliably than today.

Lower sea ice levels had even resulted in stunted growth of polar bears, a report in the Nature Climate Change journal said.

Dr David Bickford and Jennifer Sheridan of the National University of Singapore wrote: "The consequences of shrinkage are not yet fully understood, but could be far-reaching for biodiversity and humans alike.

"Because recent climate change may be faster than past historical changes in climate, many organisms may not respond or adapt quickly enough. This implies that species may go extinct because of climate change."

However, a major issue was that not all plants and animals would shrink at the same rate, which would throw finely balanced ecosystems out of balance, according to the researchers.

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Warming climate could stunt size of species: study