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.