The Evolution Will Be Pint-Sized
Some small animals evolving to adapt to climate change, study finds
As we humans cling to the status quo while it floats down the river toward a global-warming waterfall (ahem), smaller animals are getting on with evolving. New research in Science identifies heritable genetic changes in some small wildlife that increase their chances of survival in the lengthened spring and autumn seasons brought about by climate change. Some animals are migrating, reproducing, or developing earlier in the spring, including fruit flies, mosquitoes, Canadian red squirrels, European blackcap birds, and, uh, European great tits (they’re birds). Small animals that reproduce speedily can genetically adapt to changes faster than larger animals with long life cycles — like us. While adapting to longer seasons is genetically advantageous, scientists have not yet seen evolution that would ready animals for warmer temperatures or altered climatic conditions. So the critters are, you might say, not out of the woods yet.