There are some consequences from climate change that are easy to see – melting glaciers, climbing sea levels and some seriously nasty droughts – and then there are the not so obvious effects. One of these subtler repercussions can be seen in the alpine Chamois goat, which is now about 25% smaller than it was just 30 years ago according to a new study from Durham University.
Researchers studied the size of animals as reported by local hunters and found that as temperatures have increased in the Alpine area by 3 – 4 degrees Celsius, the goats have decreased in size. According to the research, the problem isn’t caused by lack of vegetation from a changing environment, but perhaps because the animals have been spending more time hiding in the shade to escape the heat rather than grazing.
Although the alpine goat isn’t the only animal to change in size as a result of climate change, researchers are surprised at the speed and magnitude of the change and they worry that the abrupt change could threaten the goat’s survival. “[T]he decreases we observe here are astonishing. The impacts on Chamois weight could pose real problems for the survival of these populations,” said lead author Dr. Tom Mason.