Shrinking salamanders a sign of climate change?

(courtesy: www.smithsonianmag.com)

Sunday, June 29, 2014

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) -- Some scientists suggest it could be another sign of climate change. A new study finds salamanders in the Appalachian Mountains are getting smaller. And the researchers think it's because in a drier, warmer climate, the little cold-blooded creatures use more energy to stay alive.

A study published by researchers from Clemson University, the universities of Maryland and Alabama and Iowa State finds salamanders from the year 1980 on were about 8 percent smaller than those from the previous quarter century or so.

Why should people be concerned about smaller salamanders?

Because they are a key food for animals in the cool dark forests where they live -- from birds and snakes to mammals. Those species can be affected because smaller salamanders mean those creatures need to hunt more to find the same amount of food.