By: Dave Levitan | July 8 2014, Conservation Magazine
“It’s not just the heat. Climate change will find (is finding) many creative ways to mess with wildlife and challenge conservationists. One such way is to change the patterns of fires that burn across animal habitats; in many areas, drought and heat have led to increases in fire frequency and severity. New research suggests that these changes have direct effects on caribou herds, an issue obviously for the caribou themselves as well as on human populations in the far north that rely on them.
“This is a great example of how it’s not always the obvious effect that matters. Yes, more fire means fewer trees, but for caribou, it’s the lichen that grows on the trees and elsewhere on the tundra that matters most. Caribou subsist on these lichens, and they may be very slow to recover following severe fires. And those…
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