Alberta frogs most at risk from climate change: report

The peaceful croaking of frogs in Alberta ponds could eventually go silent, according to an assessment of how climate change could affect the province’s plants and animals.

EDMONTON — The peaceful croaking of frogs in Alberta ponds could eventually go silent, according to an assessment of how climate change could affect the province’s plants and animals.

“Our grandchildren are going to see a much different mix of species,” said Chris Shank of the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute, an environmental agency sponsored by government and industry.

Shank said that over the next 40 years, Alberta’s average temperature is likely to increase between 2.5 C and 3.5 C, while precipitation is likely to stay about the same.

“It’s going to be drier, so the species have to be able to adapt to those changed conditions,” said Shank.

Many species are already adapted to a wide variety of conditions and will probably do just fine. Those with narrower or more specific requirements will have to move, either further north or to higher elevations.

Highly mobile animals such as birds won’t have much trouble shifting locale. Others, however, will.

“Amphibians — we’re talking about frogs, toads and salamanders — are probably the group that will be most affected,” Shank said.

“They need standing water to breed in and we expect a lot of those shallow ponds to dry up, at least in some years, and they have very porous skin they need to keep moist. It looks like they’re going to be challenged.”

Those requirements make it harder for amphibians to hop or crawl across a field or clear cut in search of a fresh pond, said Shank.

As a result, six out of Alberta’s 10 amphibian species are considered highly vulnerable to climate change.

Eight of the 37 species of mammals assessed were considered highly vulnerable. Only five of the 55 species of birds assessed fall into that category.

Climate is most likely to threaten those mammals and birds with narrow habitat requirements, such as Ord’s kangaroo rat in southern Alberta and the mountain-dwelling American pika, as well as the greater sage grouse and whooping crane.

Species likely to flourish as Alberta’s climate changes are those already highly familiar — white-tailed deer, coyotes, blue jays and robins.

“It’s the ones that biologists call generalists — the ones that don’t have specific habitat requirements, specific requirements for temperature or moisture, that eat a variety of species,” Shank said.

“They’re going to do quite well. They’re probably going to increase.”

Shank said that climate change pressures in Alberta will also be heavily affected by the province’s ongoing industrialization, but scientists haven’t figured out how to understand the interplay between those two factors.

“We’ve identified that as a major issue. The interaction of climate change and human development, to determine how they’re going to interact is extremely complex and we haven’t determined a way to do that, but people are certainly thinking about it.”

Meanwhile, Shank said Alberta could help out the most vulnerable species by finding them new places to live.

“One thing we could do is establish some dispersal corridors to enhance their ability to move in response to climate change.”

He also points out most of the vulnerable species are already endangered.

“If we can continue and enhance our efforts to protect species at risk, it’s going to have a big effect on how biodiversity in general responds to climate change in Alberta.”

Just Posted

Eager-beaver cannabis entrepreneurs already waiting outside Red Deer City Hall

Appications will be accepted on a first-come basis starting on Tuesday

Like father like son: Red Deer area Dreeshen family dedicates life to public service

There are three jobs that could be considered the Dreeshen family business:… Continue reading

Restaurant owner concerned about Gasoline Alley road changes

Nearly 20 trucks were lined up on the service road in front… Continue reading

Preliminary hearings set for two men charged in weapons and drugs bust

A Red Deer man and Sylvan Lake man are facing 80 charges

Eight dogs found in Innisfail hotel room were kept in cages

Eight dogs, kept in cages in a small hotel room in Innisfail… Continue reading

WATCH: Hypnotizing show at Westerner Days

Hynotist and mentalist Joshua Seth performs three times a day at Westerner Days

PHOTOS: River Town Saints rock Red Deer

River Town Saints play Westerner Days Friday in Red Deer

PHOTOS: Dogs, horses and more animals at Westerner Days

Westerner Park’s pavilions were filled with animals during Westerner Days

Red Deer residents can’t get enough mini-doughnuts

Mini-doughnuts were the biggest draw to Westerner Days according to a Red… Continue reading

Four-car crash, including RCMP vehicle, on Highway 2

Two sheriff vehicles were also involved in the collision

Divers hunt for 4 after Missouri duck boat sinks, killing 13

BRANSON, Mo. — Divers are searching Friday for four people still missing… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer’s noxious weeds are a goat’s dietary delight

Piper Creek Community Garden gets chemical-free weed control

‘Amazing Race Canada’ competitors face B.C. challenge

They drove Corvettes, mastered falconry basics, and ate blueberry pie in the Cowichan Valley

From hot to not? The Baloney Meter weighs in on Scheer’s economy claims

OTTAWA — “Justin Trudeau inherited a booming economy, but he’s squandering it.… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month