The impacts of climate change are starting to show themselves in a wide variety of ways. One of the changes scientists have been seeing is in migration patters and the natural range of the world’s wildlife. As areas get warmer and cooler, animals are moving to better meet their needs.
A shocking new study recently published by the journal Science has calculated that the speed which creatures have been increasing their ranges of habitat is much quicker than previously anticipated. Land-based animals have been moving toward the poles at a rate of about 10 miles per decade. Sea more aggressively at a rate of 44 miles per decade.
This situation could result in a brutal ecological clash of species, with animals once not present in specific environments suddenly arriving and competing with native creatures for food and territory. This has the potential to seriously impact humanity as well.
One example is already playing itself out. Off the western coast of Australia, non-native fish have moved into the area and have effectively destroyed what were once lush kelp forests, causing them to be replaced by seaweed turf. It’s not clear how this particular situation could impact other animals and people alike.
Shifting fish populations could end up having a catastrophic impact on civilization. Already, different countries are fighting over fish stocks that have moved from once familiar to now strange waters. Already, “mackerel wars” are being fought in the North Atlantic ocean.
“Climate-driven species redistributions shouldn’t only be a concern for conservation biologists – they should worry everyone,” writes the study’s co-author Dr Nathalie Pettorelli in a statement. “Nations are far from being equally equipped to deal with the consequences of this redistribution of biodiversity, and the world as a whole isn’t adequately prepared to handle the range of issues emerging from species moving across local, national, and international jurisdictional boundaries.”