wolves speak!

Scientists studying grey wolves in Yellowstone national park have developed a method to predict how animals will respond to climate change.

“We now have the tools to determine how wolves would react to climate change,” said Tim Coulson, a professor of life sciences at Imperial College London, who led the study. “With any luck, in the future we can apply the methods developed from the wolves down to small mites or to large herbivores.”

The study used data that is already routinely collected on radio-collared wolves to get a glimpse of some basic responses to a changing environment – population numbers, genetics, body size, and the timing of key events in the wolf life cycle, such as when they first have pups.

Some animals will be constantly on the move, up hill and to cooler locations at a rate of about a quarter of a mile a year according to one study, in search of suitable homes. Other animals will run out of space, and die out. Still others may successfully adapt, growing bigger or smaller to suit their new conditions. The Guardian, 2 Dec 2011