Adaptation to climate change

22 July 2010

Researchers have used 33 years of data on a population of yellow-bellied marmots in Colorado to explain, step by step, how climate change can affect animal life. Over that time frame, the rodents have been waking from hibernation and giving birth earlier in the spring. As a result, the marmots have more time to fatten up before going into hibernation for the winter. That means greater fitness and higher survival rates. The mean body mass for adults (2+ years old) increased from 6.8 pounds to 7.6 pounds. This was associated with an accelerated population increase, dominated by older individuals, from an average of .56 marmots per year between 1976 and 2001 to an average of 14.2 marmots per year subsequently.