Skinny hedgehogs, worried mountain birds … These animals that carry the burden of spring, which is too hot and too dry

“They come from everywhere, sometimes in the form of a skeleton, it’s a disaster!” For fifteen years, Sarah Stahl received wounded or sick hedgehogs the care center she set up in the Paris area, Les P’tits Kipik. Over the past few months, she has seen a number of weakened, dehydrated or malnourished hedgehogs flock to her center, some have reported. The winter has become too mild, and hedgehogs are no longer allowed to fall asleep, and the summer has become too hot, She explains. Because they are unable to hibernate or are in good condition, they deplete themselves all winter in search of food, and the breeding cycle of the insects they feed on ceases.

Winter was mild, and spring even more so. May 2022 was the hottest month ever recorded in France, with temperatures more than 3 ° C above seasonal levels. During the third week of May, the average temperature in the country did not fall below 20 ° C, which is unheard of. May 2022 was also one of the driest, with a deficit of precipitation, which reached records in 1976, 1989 and 2011, forcing small mammals to cover several kilometers for moisture.

Other species suffer from this lack of water, such as bees, squirrels or birds. Thus, the League for the Protection of Birds (LPO) in May reported: “Small nature suffers from water shortages and droughts.” And she urged people to put a container filled with water “in the open” allow birds, but also hedgehogs, squirrels or bees “Quench your thirst in complete safety”.

In Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, the drought is affecting all departments in the region, and some animals are changing their behavior. So, wild boars were observed on the beach of Pampelon, on the peninsula of the Gulf of Saint-Tropez, shortly before the weekend of the Ascension. “Wild boar – an omnivorous animal, relief Eric Hansen, Director of the French Biodiversity Office (OFB) for PACA and Corsica, if he can’t find food on his territory, he will be attracted to garbage cans in the cities. “ He continues: “C.It has already happened that wild boars pierce agricultural irrigation pipes to find water when it ends up in their habitat.

Global warming is having an increasing impact on species. Among them are icons, despite themselves, such as the polar bear at the North Pole or the penguins at the South Pole, which need packing ice and ice to survive. And in our latitudes, mountain species that need coolness to live. “The higher the temperature, the more these species must rise in height, Explain environmentalist Florian Kirchner, responsible for species programs on the French CommitteeInternational Union for Conservation of Nature (UIC)N), one of the main non-governmental organizations dedicated worldwide conservation. Due to the conical nature of the mountains, the higher the animals climb, the less space they have and the greater the competition between them, because resources there are limited.

For example, in the Alps, researchers from Grenoble have shown that animals and plants migrated to altitudes in just a few decades: the lowest limit at which species were observed is now higher than before. Some lowland species are no longer found there, and they had to hide above. “It’s only been twenty or thirty years since we saw the first unpleasant effects of the rise in temperature caused by human activity.” – the ecologist continues. The phenomenon is accelerating, and this acceleration is part of a very short frame in geological time.

“Since there will be no food resources for all, the species will disappear.”

Florian Kirchner

at franceinfo

The species has two possible responses to climate change: adapting or migrating. For most species, adaptation by natural selection will be impossible, as this phenomenon occurs over a very long period of time, about a century or a millennium. However, climate change is galloping at such a rate that the offspring of animals will not have time to adapt, the vast majority of them. Unable to adapt, species must migrate. But migration is only possible for those who are very mobile, such as birds or mammals with high dispersal abilities. For small animals such as lizards or small birds, migration is difficult, if not impossible. Those who can migrate will have to look for favorable habitats elsewhere and compete with other animals to share the resources they can find there.

In addition to this race for resources, some species face other challenges due to climate change. This applies, for example, to the partridge, an alpine bird whose plumage varies depending on the seasons: gray and brown in summer and completely white in winter. “Partridge – a bird whose plumage resembles explains Florian Kirchner. That is, it helps him blend in with the environment: in the gray rock in summer and in snowy surfaces in winter. Problem is that its plumage varies depending on the seasons, depending on the length of day and night, always at the same time. However, in recent years, snow cover comes later. Then the partridge is no longer in sync with the environment: the bird finds itself with white plumage until the snow has fallen, and becomes vulnerable to predators such as foxes, weasels, king eagles, peregrine falcon or eagle owl.

Can certain species, on the other hand, benefit from climate change? “They exist, but in general there will be many more losers than winners, warns Florian Kirchner. A few rare species that can take advantage of global warming to expand their range are the so-called ubiquitous species, which can easily adapt to a new habitat. Like, for example, the tiger mosquito, a tropical species that is now present in two-thirds of France and seems to like it very much.

“Let’s face it, the species will be extinct in the coming years and the rate of extinction is accelerating. And when the species disappears, it is lost forever.

Florian Kirchner

at franceinfo

However, some species are adapting: in a study published Wednesday, May 25, in a scientific journal ScienceResearchers at the Australian National University in Canberra found that of the 19 wild bird and mammal populations they studied, their evolution was on average two to four times faster than in recent decades than their models predicted.

“It’s not too late to act, continues Florian Kirchner. The sooner we act, the more we will be able to save species in the future: a challenge for us, environmental associations or scientists. There is an urgent need to preserve the entire natural environment that surrounds us in order to give species the best chance of coping, on the one hand, and resolutely fighting climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. ”

Everyone on their own scale: Sarah Stahl continues to treat dehydrated hedgehogs in her care center. “Previously, we mostly collected hedgehogs wounded by lawn mowers, sighs Sarah Stahl. They arrive there weakened, almost dead. It’s getting worse every year, and I’m afraid it’s going to get worse and worse. ”

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