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Climate Change Driving Michigan Mammals North

Some Michigan mammal species are rapidly expanding their ranges northward, apparently in response to climate change, a new study shows. In the process, these historically southern species are replacing their northern counterparts.

The finding, by researchers at the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Ohio's Miami University, appears in the June issue of the journal Global Change Biology.

"When you read about changes in flora and fauna related to climatic warming, most of what you read is either predictive—they're talking about things that are going to happen in the future—or it's restricted to single species living in extreme or remote environments, like polar bears in the Arctic," said lead author Philip Myers, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at U-M. "But this study documents things that are happening right now, here at home."

*Image: Southern flying squirrel. Of the nine mammal species examined, four have established strongholds or increased in abundance, while five have declined. The increasing species—white-footed mice, southern flying squirrels, eastern chipmunks and common opossums—all are southern species, while the declining species—woodland deer mice, southern red-backed voles, northern flying squirrels, woodland jumping mice, and least chipmunks—are all northern species. (Credit: Image courtesy of University of Michigan)

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