The Molecular Ecologist: Climate’s a-changin’. Will the living world evolve to cope?

Warm Fire It’s getting hot out there. Photo by Kaibab National Forest.

Over at The Molecular Ecologist, I discuss a new study that uses phylogenetic estimates for 17 families of vertebrates to estimate how rapidly those animals have evolved in response to past climate change, and compares those estimates to how fast they’ll need to evolve to keep up with projected climate change. Spoiler alert: past rates of adaptation to climate aren’t anywhere near fast enough.

To keep up with projected climate change, Quintero and Wiens estimated that the species in their dataset would have to undergo adaptive change at from 10,000 to 100,000 times faster than the rates estimated in their evolutionary past.

Well, but maybe. To learn whether the data are telling us what the study’s authors say they’re telling us, go read the whole thing.◼