Wired Science reports that marmots have been getting steadily fatter since our fine country’s bicentennial and that, lately, they’ve also been getting busy earlier and earlier in the new millennium. That’s resulting in a marmot population explosion:
Increasingly, short winters have meant that yellow-bellied marmots (Marmota flaviventris) near the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory now emerge 20 days earlier from their seven- to eight-month hibernation than they did in the late ’70s. This, in turn, has meant more time to get fat over the summer, less fat loss over the winter and, over the past decade, a huge spike in their survival and reproductive success.
“We believe that gradual change in climate crosses a threshold, and causes abrupt changes in population,” said biologist Arpat Ozgul from the Imperial College of London, lead author of a study on the marmots being published July 21 in Nature.
This led me (and my traveling partner) to think back to a trip we recently took down to Taos, N.M., during which we encountered an interesting front-page piece in the Valley Courier newspaper of southern Colorado. I can’t find it online, so I’ll just post the two photos I happened to take of the story…
And the closing sentences… Read more