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Wildlife may suffer from longer transition into spring

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Marked by the increased availability of light, the vernal window is the time between the end of winter and the beginning of the growing season. Now research suggests that the warmer, less snowy winters that climate change is expected to bring could make this transition period stay open longer, which may have impacts on wildlife that are yet unknown. “We found in winters that have been warmer or winters that have had less snow, the vernal window is longer,” said Alix Contosta, a research assistant professor at the University of New Hampshire’s Earth Systems Research Center and lead author of the paper in Global Change Biology. “If it’s been cold or there’s been a lot of snow, when spring comes, you spring the window open wide at once. If it’s been warm or there hasn’t been much snow, then the window inches open.” Considering the crucial role the vernal window plays in the annual cycling of energy, carbon, other nutrients and water, what would this lengthening mean for wildlife? That’s a question Contosta has just begun scratching the surface of. She’s analyzing herring migration in New Hampshire to determine whether the time between when stream flow peaks and when the [...]


Read more: http://wildlife.org/wildlife-may-suffer-from-longer-transition-into-spring/

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