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We have no clue how climate change will affect most land mammals

We have no clue how climate change will affect most land mammals

We've only studied the effects of climate change for around one percent of all mammals.

At this point, you might think we understand how climate change will impact the planet pretty thoroughly. But one group of researchers just revealed a rather startling gap in our knowledge: how the warming planet affects land mammals.

The study, published this week in the Journal of Animal Ecology, involved an international team of researchers who conducted a literature review of all studies that examined links between climate change and how well a mammal could survive and eventually reproduce. Survival and reproduction are two of the key demographic rates that ecologists look at to see how a species’ population could grow and adapt over time.

Researchers looked for explicit links between these demographic rates for terrestrial mammals and two key drivers of climate change: temperature and precipitation. This study attempted to evaluate not just how temperature and precipitation were affecting the demographics of these mammals, but also how and where each study was carried out.

There are roughly 6,400 recognized mammal species on planet Earth. After conducting a literature review of studies that covered 5,287 of these terrestrial mammals, researchers found only 106 studies that looked at the explicit link between both the survival and reproduction rates of mammals and climate change factors. Those studies only covered 87 total mammals. That number is shockingly low–it means we only have studies exploring the imminent effects of climate change on just over one percent of the total mammal population.

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