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

Blackfalds firefighter battling cancer

A volunteer firefighter in Blackfalds for 15 years, Dave Sutherland now battling… Continue reading

Red Deer transit users are concerned about the future

But recreation centre users are glad facility hours were maintained

Community cardiac awareness dinner and show to be held

Continued focus to bring cardiac catheterization lab to Red Deer

Red Deer businesses react to 2.02 per cent tax increase for 2018

Chamber would prefer zero increase, while DBA thinks it’s reasonable

Bring on the rodeo says Red Deer County mayor

Canadian Finals Rodeo’s move to Red Deer good for whole region, says Red Deer County Mayor Jim Wood

WATCH news on the go: Replay Red Deer Jan. 21

Watch news highlights from Red Deer and Central Alberta

RDC chosen to host 2019 men’s volleyball national championship

Sports enthusiasts in Red Deer will have more to look forward to… Continue reading

Police is still looking for Second World War army passport owner

No one has claimed a rare Second World War German army passport… Continue reading

DJ Sabatoge and TR3 Band kick off Sylvan Lake’s Winterfest 2018

Central Alberta’s youngest DJ will open for TR3 Band kicking off Town… Continue reading

Two Canadians, two Americans abducted in Nigeria are freed

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, especially on the Kaduna to Abuja highway

WATCH news on the go: Replay Red Deer Jan. 21

Watch news highlights from Red Deer and Central Alberta

Liberals quietly tap experts to write new paternity leave rules

Ideas include creating an entirely new leave benefit similar to one that exists in Quebec

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Are you ready for some wrestling? WWE’s ‘Raw’ marks 25 years

WWE flagship show is set to mark its 25th anniversary on Monday

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