Effects of Global Warming on Mammal Ecology

Understanding the effects of climate change on mammals has become increasingly important in light of current global warming and the recent findings of the IPCC. Further and related to a more paleontological question, debate has raged for decades as to the cause of the end-Pleistocene extinctions in North America, where over 35 genera of large mammals went extinct. One side suggests that the migration of humans into North America is the sole cause of the extinction, while the other side hypothesizes that climate changes were to blame. One way to test the effects of climate change and the hypothesis that it caused the end-Pleistocene extinction is to examine how ecology changed in mammals with climate change in the absence of humans earlier in the Pleistocene. Results from a number of studies that I have conducted or participated in show that the effects of climate on mammals are complex and that generally the conclusions from specific sites can not be extrapolated globally. Future research is focused to differentiate how global climate change affects mammals in different regions and of different life history with the aim of providing insight into how current global warming will affect extant species.


Related Publications

DeSantis, L. R. G., Feranec, R. S., and MacFadden, B. J. 2009. 
Effects of Global Warming on Ancient Mammalian Communities and Their Environments.PlosOne 4(6):e5750. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.

Feranec, R. S., Hadley, E. A., and Paytan, A. 2009. 
Stable Isotopes Reveal Seasonal Competition for Resources Between Late Pleistocene Bison (Bison) and Horse (Equus) from Rancho La Brea, Southern California.Paleogeography, Paleoclimatology, Paleoecology 271:153-160.

Blois, J.L., Feranec, R. S., and Hadly, E.A. 2008. 
Environmental Influences on Spatial and Temporal Patterns of Body-size Variation in California Ground Squirrels (Spermophilus beecheyi). Journal of Biogeography 35:602-613.

Feranec, R.S. 2004. Stable carbon and oxygen isotope analysis of marmot cheek teeth from the Pit Locality, Porcupine Cave, Colorado. Pp 327-331. In Barnosky, A. D. (ed.).Biodiversity Response to Environmental Change in the Early and Middle Pleistocene: The Porcupine Cave Fauna from Colorado. University of California Press, Berkeley.