Capital researchers have revealed that climate change may be behind the declining population of a Canadian squirrel.
A study by scientists from Edinburgh and Alberta universities into the Columbian ground squirrel, which lives in the Rocky Mountains, has revealed that heavy winter snowfalls are delaying the animals’ emergence from hibernation.
This could prevent female ground squirrels, who hibernate for nine months of the year, from gaining enough weight during their short summer to give birth to healthy offspring and to survive the next season’s hibernation.
The researchers found that the squirrels tended to stay underground for longer during winters with heavy snowfall. Over the 20-year study, late-season snowfalls increased, which kept the squirrels underground for an extra half-day per year on average.