Skip to comments.Climate change shrinks wild sheep: scientists
Posted on 07/02/2009 4:12:57 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
PARIS (AFP) Climate change has caused a flock of wild sheep on a remote northern Scottish island to become smaller, according to an unusual investigation published on Thursday.
The study explains a mystery that has bedevilled scientists for the past two years.
The wild Soay sheep live on Hirta, in the St. Kilda archipelago in the storm-battered Outer Hebrides, and have been closely studied for nearly a quarter of a century.
The law of evolutionary theory says the brown, thick-coated ungulates should have got progressively bigger.
Tough winters mean that bigger sheep have a better chance of survival and of reproducing than smaller ones, and eventually they would dominate in the flock's numbers.
But in 2007, stunned researchers realised that the average size of the Hirta sheep, instead of rising, had been progressively falling.
The answer, British biologists said on Thursday, lies in climate change.
A team led by Tim Coulson, a professor at Imperial College London, pored over data for the animals' body size and life history over 24 years.
They found that the sheep were not growing as fast as they once did and smaller sheep were likelier to survive into adulthood instead of perishing as lambs.
This gives smaller sheep a shot at reproduction, which means that the average sheep size has fallen -- by 81 grammes per year (2.85 ounce) per year on average.
Coulson believes that shorter, milder winters mean that lambs do not need to put on as much weight in the first months of life in order to survive to their first birthday, as they did when winters were colder.
"In the past, only the big, healthy sheep and large lambs that had piled on weight in their first summer could survive the harsh winters on Hirta," he said.
Soay sheep are seen in France in 2004. Climate change has caused a flock of wild sheep on a remote northern Scottish island to become smaller, according to an unusual investigation published on Thursday. The wild Soay sheep live on Hirta, in the St. Kilda archipelago in the storm-battered Outer Hebrides, and have been closely studied for nearly a quarter of a century. (AFP/File)
“The law of evolutionary theory says the brown, thick-coated ungulates should have got progressively bigger. “
Since when is theory, law?
As soon as I get out of bed, I continually snap my fingers: It keeps the elephants away. There! That proves cause and effect. Makes about as much sense.
OK, I’m finally on board if I can blame it for shrinkage.
Any conclusion made by correlating a factual observation with a faulty one is still faulty.
If you assume that the HOTTEST year “ever” was 1934, then there has been NO climate change that could have changed the sheep. If you take the “corrected” temperatures that Hansen's GISS have corrupted, then 1998 was “hottest” at a gain of 1/2 of one degree from 1970.
So, how does 1/2 of one degree make the sheep change?
A law? Theories, hypotheses maybe, but scientific LAWS must be proven.
I wonder which climate change they’re referring to - the warming one or the cooling one?????
Or does that even matter if they simply call it climate change?
Waddya say we spend another trillion or two bucks or so of our magic climate fixing American money to help the earth before it's too late.......
That island has interested me since seeing the movie “The Edge of the World” which was about St. Kilda or Hirta as the main island is called.
That very remote island had been occupied by humans for at least 2000 years but they finally gave up in the 1930’s after some bad crops and cold weather. The movie is about the abandonment of the island.
I thought the law of evolutionary theory said that animal populations on islands with no major predators would become smaller, like the shetland ponies.
Well there ya are! It’s all that studying of the sheep that has made them shrink. If everybody would let’em alone they’de get big again.
Actually, man is responsible for global warming. We started it with daylight savings time. All these years of adding that extra hour of sunlight did the trick.
Wild sheep got shrinkage?!?
It sounds pretty rugged out there.
OMG We’re all gonna die!!