What do alpine steinbocks and arctic crustaceans have in common? Climate Change


I just read on Climate Progress that:

Scientists... plotted the yearly spring bloom of phytoplankton - tiny plants at the base of the ocean food chain—in the Arctic Ocean and found the peak timing of the event has been progressing earlier each year for more than a decade. The spring bloom has come up to 50 days earlier in some areas in that time span

This is bad because it’s a human-made, not natural phaenomenon, that has huge, bad effects. Phytoplankton is the primary food of zooplankton, that is krill and other small crustaceans, which is the primary food of all bigger fish, included the fish we eat.

That Climate Progress article explains that these days, thanks to human-induced warming, phytoplankton blooms too early, that is before the moment of the year when zooplankton is genetically programmed to reproduce. Therefore, when zooplankton reproduces, lots of phytoplankton is already stale. The consequence is that much less phytoplankton survives which means, eventually, less food for humans (not to mention the loss of biodiversity, of course).

Is this an isolated case? No. The reason why the phytoplankton article impressed me is that it rang a bell. When I read it, I remembered that back in 2005, during a holiday, I had read in a local magazine that the same thing is happening very far from the Oceans, in the highest mountains of Europe.

One of the most wodnerful sightings in the Gran Paradiso National Park in Valle d’Aosta is the steinbock, or alpine ibex. The park is one of the best possible havens for this species, yet the local steinbock population has been decreasing for years.

Why? Here’s one of the reasons, summarized from Italian websites Express News and Blitz Quotidiano that reported the same thing later:

The survival rate of Alpine Ibex kids in the Park fell from 60 per cent from the eighties to just over 20 percent in 2008. One of the reason seems to be climate change. On the alpine meadows in recent years we've had several hot springs that caused snow to retreat too quickly. This favoured the rapid growth of pastures, which consequently matured earlier than usual. The births of the Alpine Ibex, like those of all species in the mountains, are programmed to happen in the spring just to take advantage of the maturation of that vegetation. If the vegetation matures too early, mothers and kids are left with forage that isn't sufficiently nutritious and has too little protein.

So it looks like it’s not just some crustaceans in the deep oceans that are dying because their food is already fried when they are born. Do you know other examples of the same kind? Thanks.

Stop at Zona-M   Never miss a story: follow me on Twitter (@mfioretti_en), or via RSS