Global Warming Plays Havoc with Nature

Gary O’Bireck

Global warming and nature continue to create changes that influence the traditional development of species. Scientists continue to gain a greater understanding of how the complicated timing of predator/prey interaction is being impacted by climate.

When predators seek traditional nourishment and find their pickings scarce, nature’s dinner time is believed to be off kilter. A groundbreaking study conducted at the University of Ottawa and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences offers a mega analysis of this biological timing problem. After closely studying 88 species that depend on other forms of nature to enable and enrich their existence and reproduction, researchers have found that the crucial timing of predator/prey interaction appears to be coinciding less and less. Instead, a difference of about six days a decade has been attributed to the impact of climate change.

This study contends that warming temperatures have altered instinctual migration schedules and reproduction as subtle ecosystems are slowly becoming unbalanced. For instance, it is imperative that birds of prey migrate on the same schedule as their prey. If this intricate timing is altered, an imbalance in nature’s dinner time takes place. There is a similar dilemma when we talk about bees. For pollination to occur, bees must be able to locate and interact with flowers in bloom at the same time. If one precedes the other, successful pollination rates suffer. According to ecologist and lead author Heather Kharouba, a crucial example of this interplay between temperature and changes in how species sync together was found in Washington state’s Lake Washington. Over the past quarter century, it was discovered that plant plankton now blossom 34 days earlier than the zooplankton that consume them. What makes this finding important is that this massive timing change is occurring at the bottom of our food chain.

So, when we consider the big picture, it isn’t just nature’s dinner hour that warming temperatures are jeopardizing – it is our relationship to the planet.