Sunday, August 21, 2016

Article #1

Hybrid animals like 'grolar bears' not expected to be common consequence of climate change

Grizzly + Polar = Grolar
This article brought up a lot of interesting ideas that I hadn’t considered before. The only species mixing as a result of climate change that I’d heard of was grolar bears, and this was only because a cousin of my mom wrote a book about climate change and I remember her husband giving a talk about grolar bears as part of the release of that book. There are a lot of aspects of climate change that are discussed often, many that include polar bears and their climate, but this side is one that isn’t talked about much so it was interesting to hear about. For some reason it hadn’t occurred to me that this was even a problem, or that species other than bears could be affected.
Basically, as world temperatures change animals will have to shuffle around in order to stay in the climate that they are biologically supposed to be in. This means that when similar species come together, there will be a bit of crossover, creating hybrid animals. One thing that struck me as interesting is how much higher the rate of overlap was for birds, which seemed off until I remembered migration, and then it made a lot of sense.
A hybrid of these birds has been seen
In biology I remember talking a little about evolution and how over a very long period of time animals evolve, until eventually they are something different. This type of hybrid animal creation happens very fast, and unlike evolution, doesn’t give the rest of the animals in the ecosystem time to adapt. In the tropics, where the greatest amount of “climate induced range overlap” is expected, it will probably cause a lot of problems. Introducing a new species will always have some impact, for better or worse (but usually worse), and a lot of new species are expected to be introduced here.
The thing that struck me as kind of concerning was how much the news article changed how the information was presented. Reading the scientific article I was thinking how high the numbers were, but the news article seemed very nonchalant about it, saying that hybrid animals were “not expected to be a common consequence of climate change” and dismissing the severity of the problem. Even if only 6% of species are affected by this, that’s a lot of species and the world will change a lot because of the overlap.

Despite lots of fancy notation in the scientific article that didn’t make much sense to my high school brain, this article was very informative. The biggest question that it brings to mind is whether or not things will actually pan out like the article says. Unfortunately, this is one question that only time can answer.

The topic of hybrid animals is one that people don’t talk about a lot, and that scientists haven’t looked into extensively, with even the article calling it a “relatively unstudied biological impact of climate change.” In the future I’d be interested to read more about the topic, and to see if other studies support the data put forward in this study or not.

What will be next?
Also, side note, sorry I'm so late to the summer bio party. I meant to get here sooner but it didn't work out that way. I'm here now though!

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