Ecology: Hotter climate, altered breeding

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As Earth warms, amphibians are shifting their breeding times at unprecedented rates.

Four out of ten amphibian species studied at a South Carolina wetland either delayed or advanced their breeding — depending on their breeding season — by 15.3–76.4 days over a 30-year period. For two of the species, Ambystoma opacum and Eurycea quadridigitata, this coincided with a 1.2 °C increase in overnight air temperature during their pre-breeding and breeding periods.

Brian Todd at the University of California, Davis, and his team say that the altered breeding times, which range from 5.9 to 37.2 days per decade, are among the greatest rates of change seen in ecological life-cycle events. The changes could affect the dynamics of the larger amphibian larval community, including resource availability and predation rates.

Proc. R. Soc. B doi:10.1098/rspb.2010.1768 (2010)

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