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The global consequences of increased annual temperatures for wildlife species are difficult to predict, mainly because of the complex dynamics of the ecosystems of which such species are an integral part.

Examples:

Lake sturgeon (Société de la faune et des parcs du Québec)

Lake sturgeon
(Société de la faune et des parcs du Québec)
  • A decrease in flow in the Rivière Des Prairies in June would reduce the population density of lake sturgeon.
  • A drop in water levels in the St. Lawrence and Sainte-Anne rivers in January could compromise Atlantic tomcod reproduction.


Did you know?
An increase in temperature would reduce the size of caribou herds through the destruction of winter habitats by summer forest fires.

Forest fire (Carolle Mathieu)

Forest fire
(Carolle Mathieu)

Torrential rains along the North Shore in July 1996 had a significant impact on many rivers, substantially altering fish habitat by leaching benthic organisms and moving sediments great distances.



Extreme weather events

Blue jay (Canadian Wildlife Service)

Blue jay
(Canadian Wildlife Service)

Violent or severe weather events threaten the lives of many individuals and their offspring. The total cost of damages resulting from the ice storm of 1998 has still not been assessed.... For example, many birds, including doves, jays, chickadees, and woodpeckers, that are known to be hardy and are permanent residents throughout southern Quebec, perished during this period.



White-tailed deer (Société de la faune etdes parcs du Québec)

White-tailed deer
(Société de la faune et
des parcs du Québec)

Whitecoat (Véronique Lesage)

Whitecoat
(Véronique Lesage)


Zebra mussels (S. van Mechelen, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands)

Zebra mussels
(S. van Mechelen, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands)

Heavy winter snows force animals to expend more energy to feed themselves. Conversely, a mild winter enhances the reproductive capacities of some species, leading to a gradual northward expansion of their populations.
Up to a certain point, living organisms can adapt to natural stresses such as new climatic conditions. However, the capacity to adapt varies from species to species. More resistant species may survive, others will have to migrate if they can, whereas still others will disappear and be replaced by different species that are better adapted to the new conditions.



Did you know?
Quebec is now home to many nonindigenous species, including the zebra and quagga mussels, round gobie, and tench, that have significantly modified the province's ecosystems. In most cases, increased trade along waterways is responsible for the spread of such species. Changes in temperature, water levels, and flow rates can also help these and other species become established, at the expense of the biodiversity of native habitats.

Did you know?
Wildlife is sensitive to climate variations. The results of recent studies show that any change in summer climatic conditions would likely cause rapid advances or retreats of certain populations as their habitats shift or are disturbed.

References

Jean-Luc DesGranges, Birds and Changing Climate, Canadian Wildlife Service.



Wildlife acclimates