News from Nature adds to evidence global warming is a threat to biodiversity:
The period of global warming linked to the extinction of animal giants such as the woolly mammoth also made its mark on smaller mammals who survived the event.
Adaptable deer mice came to dominate the small furry communities of northern California as the climate warmed at the end of the last ice age, around 11,700 years ago, an excavation of one ancient woodrat nest shows. Overall, the number of small mammalian species in the area declined by about one-third, say Jessica Blois, currently at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and her colleagues.
The study, published today in Nature1, emphasizes that concentrating solely on eye-catching species extinctions fails to capture the full impact of climate change on biodiversity. "If we focus only on extinction, we're not getting the whole story," says Blois. The work also suggests that rapidly reproducing, adaptable species — such as the deer mice — could benefit further from future warming.
Past climate change led to lower diversity in the small and furry.