World is obsessed with global warming. We are yet into the process of estimating the actual impact this phenomenon will have on us and the planet. We know about how this warming will affect our climatic conditions. However seldom do we think about the biological impact on the plethora of organisms we share our planet with. What if because of climatic change our body is shrinking to minimize energy loss?
I do not know about humans, But I do know about one such organism which is shrinking due to global warming. That would be the salamander!
University of Alabama’s doctoral student, Nicholas Caruso and his colleagues in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institute carried out this “interesting task” of measuring some 9,500 of the slippery amphibians. Of these their focus was on studying the changing morphology of the region’s dense salamander population.
Comparison of their data to measurements of the museum’s specimens, which have been collected from the same sites since the 1950’s, revealed a significant reduction in the average size of several species over the last half century.
That reduction, Caruso believes, is due to climate change.
Salamanders are ectothermic as their body temperature depends on the environmental temperature (Eg. warmer temperatures will lead to warmer salamanders). Based on this Caruso has hypothesized the link between salamanders and climate change. He says that warming conditions have led to an increase in metabolic expenditure in terrestrial salamanders. And if the salamanders aren’t compensating for the resulting increase in metabolic activity by increasing their caloric intake, their growth may be reduced, which could have a significant impact on the area’s food chain and ecosystem.
A little change in any organism sets into motion a chain of reaction in the entire ecosystem, the accumulated effect of which, will lead us to the irrevocable doomsday. Or maybe this is what we call Evolution!
—By Ushanandini Mohanraj