Climate change is having a “catastrophic impact” on migratory species, a United Nations report has warned.
Warmer temperatures are threatening the habitats and movements for animals ranging from whales and marine turtles to elephants, antelopes, and birds, disrupting ecosystems that benefit humanity.
A warming world is changing migratory patterns
Climate change has disrupted the periods at which species migrate to their breeding grounds, the report noted. This can mean that migratory species and their prey don’t arrive in their habitats at the same time, leading to a lack of available food. “Many of the world’s most iconic species are migratory, ” the report noted. Elephants, dolphins, whales, antelopes, and a range of birds all migrate to survive — and their movements are essential for the broader ecosystem.
Shifts in migration will impact human society
Shifts in migration patterns can have a significant impact on humans, from spreading disease to disrupting food production. Species migrating to new areas, for instance, can have huge implications for the areas they move to, which are not equipped to handle them. In Australia, kelp forests were being eaten by incoming tropical fish, which then impacted the lobster trade, The Guardian reported. “Human society has yet to appreciate the implications of unprecedented species redistribution for life on Earth, including for human lives,” noted experts in the journal Science.