Climate change spawns the incredible shrinking ant

HONG KONG,  (Reuters) – Plants and animals are  shrinking because of warmer temperatures and lack of water,  researchers said yesterday, warning it could have profound  implications for food production in years ahead.

“The worst-case scenarios … are that food crops and  animals will shrink enough to have real implications for food  security,” Assistant Professor David Bickford, of the National  University of Singapore’s biological sciences department, said.

Bickford and colleague Jennifer Sheridan trawled through  fossil records and dozens of studies which showed that many  species of plants and creatures such as spiders, beetles, bees,  ants and cicadas have shrunk over time in relation to climate  change.

They cited an experiment showing how shoots and fruit are 3  to 17 percent smaller for every degree Celsius of warming in a  variety of plants.

Each degree of warming also reduces by 0.5 to 4 percent the  body size of marine invertebrates and 6 to 22 percent of fish.

“Survival of small individuals can increase with warmer  temperatures, and drought conditions can lead to smaller  offspring, leading to smaller average size,” they wrote in their  paper which was published in the journal, Nature Climate Change,  on Monday.

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