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Think More Broadly to Predict Wildlife Climate Change Survival, Scientists Say

Scientists studying whether wildlife can adapt to climate change should focus on characteristics such as what they eat, how fast they breed and how well they survive in different habitats rather than simply on how far they can move, a conservation biologist at the University of Exeter says.

In a paper published this week in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution, Dr Regan Early, a lecturer in Conservation Biology at the University of Exeter, and colleagues from Portugal, Canada and Sweden, say scientists are largely ignoring the species characteristics that could tell them the most when it comes to calculating the probability of how well species will be able to survive environmental change.

One of the main ways wildlife will survive climate change is to move to new areas when climate conditions become intolerable for them. Scientists studying which species will be able to colonise new areas commonly focus on how well an individual can move long distances. In an opinion piece in the journal, Dr Early and her colleagues suggest an innovative framework, based on existing evidence, that provides guidelines on other characteristics that might point more accurately to which species are likely to survive.

Conal Gallagher

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