This Map Traces Where Animals Will Migrate to Adapt to Climate Change


Humans aren’t the only ones who are being driven out of their homes by climate change. As ecosystems change, many animals around the world will be forced to seek out new habitats. An animated map application shows just where mammals, birds, and amphibians in the Western hemisphere might go as the Earth warms.

The maps are based on habitat change models for 3000 species created by researchers from the University of Washington and the Nature Conservancy. These models account for the fact that species will need to avoid geographical and manmade barriers, which is why they aren’t straight lines.

The models were based on something called electronic-circuit theory, which maps out routes based on the idea that when there are few pathways, there will be bottlenecks and pinch-points, whereas more pathways will allow greater flow. The design was inspired by animated wind maps (much like this one).

The idea is, if we can predict where animals will be migrating, we can help them do it more safely. “Removing fencing, adding wildlife overpasses (or underpasses) to major roadways, and better routing of infrastructure like pipelines and powerlines can all help re-connect areas fragmented by human development.”

Check out Alaska, where species are migrating inland toward the colder regions of the Arctic.

In South America, many species are migrating west across the continent, converging in Ecuador and the Andes.

Make sure to check out the animated version here.

[h/t CityLab]

All images courtesy Migrations in Motion

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