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Evolution May Not Keep Up With Climate Change

If climate change accelerates, can animals and plants evolve quickly enough to keep up with it? Climate changes profoundly influenced the rise and fall of six distinct, successive waves of mammal species diversity in North America over the last 65 million years.

The Science Daily website quotes evolutionary biologist Christine Janis as saying, "Although we've always known in a general way that mammals respond to climatic change over time, there has been controversy as to whether this can be demonstrated in a quantitative fashion. We show that the rise and fall of these faunas is indeed correlated with climatic change--the rise or fall of global paleotemperatures--and also influenced by other more local perturbations such as immigration events."

By "immigration events," Janis means situations where one species, driven out of its territory by heat, cold, drought or floods (which can all be attributed to climate change).

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