As Temperatures Rise, Marmot Population Booms

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

Global warming gets a lot of bad press, but the news isn't all bad for yellow-bellied marmots in the Colorado Rockies, according to the New York Times.

Scientists there observed  that with warmer temperatures, the marmots have been emerging from hibernation earlier and going back later, which gives the marmots more time to eat and grow and less time to hibernate.  In turn, more marmots are surviving the shorter hibernation.  From 1976, when the observation began, until 2000, the marmot population remained stable, but from 2000 to 2008, it has tripled.

The researchers pointed out that continued temperature increases would not necessarily be good, however, because of the increased likelihood of drought.

The full study also appears in the current issue of the journal Nature.

–Michael Webster

Photo from Alan Vernon on Flickr