[MCN] @ only 1C heat added, a hot dry summer starves a well-known mammal

Lance Olsen lance at wildrockies.org
Fri Jul 28 21:00:29 EDT 2017

Biology Letters Published 19 July 2017.DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2017.0301

Drought-induced starvation of aardvarks in the Kalahari: an indirect effect of climate change
Benjamin Rey, Andrea Fuller, Duncan Mitchell, Leith C. R. Meyer, Robyn S. Hetem

http://rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/13/7/20170301 <http://rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/13/7/20170301>
Aardvarks (Orycteropus afer) are elusive burrowing mammals, predominantly nocturnal and distributed widely throughout Africa except for arid deserts. Their survival may be threatened by climate change via direct and indirect effects of increasing heat and aridity. To measure their current physiological plasticity, we implanted biologgers into six adult aardvarks resident in the semi-arid Kalahari. Following a particularly dry and hot summer, five of the study aardvarks and 11 other aardvarks at the study site died. Body temperature records revealed homeothermy (35.4–37.2°C) initially, but heterothermy increased progressively through the summer, with declining troughs in the nychthemeral rhythm of body temperature reaching as low as 25°C before death, likely due to starvation. Activity patterns shifted from the normal nocturnal to a diurnal mode. Our results do not bode well for the future of aardvarks facing climate change. Extirpation of aardvarks, which play a key role as ecosystem engineers, may disrupt stability of African ecosystems.

“In 1972, pursuing his calculations of ice-cover feedbacks, Budyko declared that, at the rate we were pumping CO2 into the atmosphere, the ice covering the Arctic Ocean might melt entirely by 2050. 
And glacier experts were developing models that suggested how warming might cause the ice sheets of Antarctica to break up swiftly and shock the climate system. Bryson and others worked harder
 than ever to bring their concerns to the attention of the broader scientific community and the public.

“Most scientists spoke more cautiously.”

Physics Today (American Institute of  Physics)

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