How Wolves and their Prey are Affected By Climate Change

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1 How Wolves and their Prey are Affected By Climate Change Hannah Gajewski BIO 171 Animal Biology Lab 4 December 1, 2014

2 Climate Change has been happening for a considerably long time before it was actually discovered. Before the industrial revolution pollution causing climate change and global warming was caused by the ecosystem itself, after the revolution pollution from factories and power plants have begun to warm up the ecosystem causing the ice caps to melt and for species to become nearly extinct. One of those speices, though not as severe as others, are the grey timber wolves (Canis lupus) and northern arctic wolves (Canis lupus arctos). Global warming is the increase of Earth's average surface temperature due to greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels or from deforestation, which trap heat that would otherwise escape from Earth. Carbon dioxide is the top factor in global warming and climate change. The carbon dioxide collects in the atmosphere like a blanket, trapping the heat inside. Coal-burning power plants are the largest U.S. source of carbon dioxide pollution, they produce 2.5 billion tons every year. Automobiles, the second largest source, create nearly 1.5 billion tons of CO2 annually. Humans are transforming the global environment. Great swathes of temperate forest in Europe, Asia, and North America have been cleared over the past few centuries for agriculture, timber, and urban development. Tropical forests are now on the front line. Human-assisted species invasions of pests, competitors, and predators are rising exponentially. Given these existing pressures and upheavals, it is a

3 reasonable question to ask whether global warming will make any further meaningful contribution to this mess. Some see no danger at all, maintaining that a warmer planet will be beneficial for mankind and other species on the planet, and that "corals, trees, birds, mammals, and butterflies are adapting well to the routine reality of changing climate." However, global warming has already affected the ecosystem by changing where some species can survive, the timing of breeding, migration, flowering, and so on. Although it's difficult to predict the future extinction risk. Some scientists have found that 18 to 35% of plant and animal species will be close to extinction by Global warming also affects weather patterns such as hurricanes. It doesn t create the hurricanes but it can make them stronger. Because the ocean is getting warmer, tropical storms can pick up more energy and become more powerful. So global warming could turn a category 3 storm into a much more dangerous category 4 storm. In fact, scientists have found that the destructive potential of hurricanes has greatly increased along with ocean temperature over the past 35 years. Besides weather, global warming has been affecting many animals lifestyles. The wolves being one. In past decades wolf packs have had larger numbers than recent decades, from the 1980 s Present. Now the wolf packs have begun to decrease in size due to lack of the right resources. The main resources wolves depend on are elk, moose, caribou or deer. In recent years the winters have been harsher and longer than what has been expected. Because the snow covers the ground longer and the ground stays frozen, vegetation does not

4 grow at the right time as it should. The vegetation is needed by the elk etc., without it there wouldn t be any kind of food for them to eat. Without the proper food the herds of elk and others will migrate to new areas that have those resources. The wolves my follow or they may not, but without their prey the pack will most likely starve unless a new food source is found. As most packs follow their prey, a new problem arises, pack migration means they will not come back to the old area unless provoked. Yellowstone national park had this problem as there wasn t enough food to go around for the few packs that they had, this resulted in the wolf packs dispersing and going to neighboring states. With the introduction of new elk and moose herds the wolves eventually came back. Pack dynamics have also changed over the years with prey numbers decreasing. Its been documented that when there aren t as many resources available, the pack alphas will not reproduce knowing that there isn t enough food for the existing pack members. If they were to reproduce, the pups would have lower survival rates compared to years before. Climate Change with wolves have affected mainly the northern part of the united states and north of it. With wolves migrating to new areas that leaves more prey such as deer to have more ability to reproduce, and with too many can cause problems with plant life and natural deforestation. Which then causes problems for other animal species, like a domino effect.

5 Climate change and global warming has been accepted by 100% of all scientists and has been declared an important subject to worry about. As well as humans being the number one benefactor of global warming. Wolf packs have been dwindling because of warmer temperatures and food resources not being available, they have also been on and off of the endangered spieces list because of this and over hunting.

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