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PLACE Lecture to Focus on “Scientific Evidence for Climate Change and Its Effect on Animals”

Published: November 29, 2017

Dr. Ben Neuman

Dr. Ben Neuman, chair of the Biology department at Texas A&M University-Texarkana, will present a Program for Learning and Community Engagement lecture titled “Scientific Evidence for Climate Change and Its Effect on Animals” on Tuesday, Dec. 5, at 1 p.m. in University Center 217 on the A&M-Texarkana campus at 7101 University Ave., Texarkana, Texas.

Dr. Neuman’s presentation will focus on answering the question: “How do we know about the effects of climate change on living creatures?”

“Surprisingly, the answer started with butterflies, and has now expanded to plants and animals in every part of the planet,” Dr. Neuman said, adding that people have been exploring the wilderness and mapping where different organisms live found for many years.

“Studying the way habitats have changed can be used to spot trends in the way habitats have shifted,” he said.

“In the late 1990s a graduate student named Camille Parmesan looked at temperature and habitat data starting with the checkerspot butterfly, and noticed a trend,” Dr. Neuman said. “She found that creatures that live in the air, sea and land have all been moving in a predictable way – seeking out higher elevations and moving toward the North and South Poles.  Wherever possible, creatures appeared to be retreating to regions with slightly cooler climates.”

Dr. Neuman said Parmesan also found that this has been happening consistently for more than a century, as the average global temperature has increased, living things have shifted where they live to try to compensate.  

“We will look at two of Dr. Parmesan's papers – the famous study that demonstrated the effects of climate change, and a later study that helps explain the biological reasons why some animals like the checkerspot butterfly will find it hard to adapt to climate change. These help explain why scientists think the world is heading for a major extinction event, and what we may be able to do to stop it.”

PLACE is a faculty-led program designed to create a community of learners comprising A&M-Texarkana students, faculty, staff and the community at large. PLACE chooses an annual theme around which to organize a lecture series and other activities that provide focal points for learning and discussion. This year’s theme is “Science and Technology.”

For more information, contact Dr. Corrine Hinton, PLACE chair, at Corrine.Hinton@tamut.edu and visit the PLACE website at tamut.edu/PLACE.

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