Mammals, birds adapt to changing climate easily than reptiles, amphibians: Study

Different species of birds-of-paradise
Representational picture Photo credits: a @Hanom Bashari/Burung Indonesia; b Daniel López-Velasco; c Trans Niugini Tours; d–f Tim Laman; g Ed Scholes/ Nature Communications

Warm-blooded animals like mammals and birds can acclimatize better to frequently changing climate conditions, compared to their cold-blooded peers such as reptiles and amphibians, found a study.

"We see that mammals and birds are better able to stretch out and extend their habitats, meaning they adapt and shift much easier," said lead author Jonathan Rolland from the University of British Columbia, Canada.

Researchers were able to rebuild where animals could have survived over the past 270 million years and what type of climate was suitable for them to survive in such regions after collecting records for 11, 465 species. The researchers were able to make out climate changes which might have potentially impacted the animal habitats.

Until 40 million years ago, the planet was equitably warm and favorable making it a suitable place for many other species to survive. However, once the planet cooled, every warm-blooded mammal including birds radically adapted to the colder temperatures. They are now able to migrate into habitat both in the northern as well as the southern hemispheres.

"It might explain why we see so few reptiles and amphibians in the Antarctic or even temperate habitats," said Rolland. "It's possible that they will eventually adapt and could move into these regions but it takes longer for them to change," he added.

Animals which can maintain their own body temperature could better survive in such cold regions as they have a potential to keep themselves warm, taking care of their offsprings and also migrate quickly.

"These strategies help them adapt to cold weather but we rarely see them in the ectotherms or cold-blooded animals," he said.

The study was published in the Journal of Nature Ecology and Evolution.