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Climate Change Shrinks Salamanders

By Puneet Kollipara for National Geographic
April 6, 2014; 7:12 AM ET
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The following is an excerpt from National Geographic:

Scientists had suspected that wildlife might change in size to better cope with the warmer, and perhaps drier, conditions that climate change is bringing on. So the researchers decided to compare the lengths of the specimens they collected with those of museum specimens collected from the same areas from 1957 onward. In total, the analysis included more than 9,000 specimens from more than a dozen species.

Salamanders in the Appalachians, like this Yonahlossee salamander in North Carolina, are getting smaller, says a new study. PHOTOGRAPH BY VISUALS UNLIMITED, CORBIS

From the 1950s to 2012, salamanders from six species got smaller, while creatures from just one species got a little bit larger, the researchers found. On average, salamanders collected after 1980 were eight percent smaller than those collected before then, and each generation of salamander shrunk by one percent.

Moreover, the shrinking effect was greatest in salamanders from the southernmost sites, where temperatures rose the most and rainfall decreased more than in other areas.

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