A recent review of hundreds of research studies shows that animal and plant species are dying off or changing sooner than predicted because of global warming. At least 70 species of frogs, mostly mountain-dwellers that couldn't cope with the heat, have gone extinct, and between 100 and 200 other cold-dependent animal species, such as penguins and polar bears, are in deep trouble, reports the AP.
"We are finally seeing species going extinct," said University of Texas biologist Camille Parmesan, author of the study. "Now we've got the evidence. It's here. It's real. This is not just biologists' intuition. It's what's happening."
Her review of 866 scientific studies is summed up in the journal Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics.
Parmesan reports seeing trends of animal populations moving northward if they can, of species adapting slightly because of climate change, of plants blooming earlier, and of an increase in pests and parasites.
Parmesan and others have been predicting such changes for years, but even she was surprised to find evidence that it's already happening; she figured it would be another decade away.
The most noticeable changes in plants and animals have to do with earlier springs, Parmesan said. The best example can be seen in earlier cherry blossoms and grape harvests and in 65 British bird species that in general are laying their first eggs nearly nine days earlier than 35 years ago.
Parmesan said she worries most about the cold-adapted species, such as emperor penguins that have dropped from 300 breeding pairs to just nine in the western Antarctic Peninsula, or polar bears, which are dropping in numbers and weight in the Arctic.