Hopping Ahead of Climate Change
"It's late October. Almost Halloween. Dawn breaks across the
northern Rocky Mountains and a snowshoe hare hops through the forest
in search of food. It pauses frequently to nibble on grasses, leaves,
and the twigs of low-growing fir and larch trees. Although the sky is
light, the hare does not seem overly concerned about getting eaten.
This time of year, its dazzling white coat blends in perfectly with
snow. This camoflauge provides excellent protection against lynx,
coyotes, marten, and other predators. Unfortunately, this year, the
hare has a problem.
There is no snow."
Also unfortunately for the hare described in the beginning of
Sneed B. Collard III's Hopping Ahead of Climate Change: Snowshoe
Hares, Science, and Survival, there's a great horned owl in search of
fast food. It's a common scenario. Collard describes snowshoe hares
as "the candy bar of the forest." In fact his interest in this prey
animal was triggered by concern over one of its many predators. Lynx
populations were declining. Could dwindling hare populations have
anything to do with this?
Collard's discoveries provide yet another indictment of global
climate change. Snowshoe hares, like Arctic foxes and weasels, have
coats that change color seasonally. This works just fine when there's
good seasonal match. But when seasons are thrown off, say shorter
winters, the mismatch can lead to much higher mortality rates.
Can the species survive? Are there things we can be doing to
help? Read the book and see.
On a personal note, Maine Day 2017 was awesome! It's a UMaine
tradition. Classes are cancelled and students are encouraged to
participate in service projects. A lot of projects were well
completed. A group of us from Real Food Challenge got down and dirty
helping get beds ready at Rogers Farm. The campus barbeque was
excellent!!! Everyone I talked to had a great time!
A great big shout out goes out to all who participated.
Sent from my iPod