In the 1993 blockbuster movie "Jurassic Park," a sleazy scientist played by Jeff Goldblum quips that "life finds a way." For real biologists, climate change is like a massive, unplanned experiment, one that may be too fast and strange for some species to survive it.
Some animals are already in the middle of it. As Arctic ice shelves melt, polar bears are ransacking seabird nests to sustain themselves. Migrating geese are exploring valuable but previously unseen real estate, due to melting permafrost.
But whether these adaptation attempts will succeed remains a big question, researchers say. As temperatures rise, entirely new environments are forming, changing how species interact with each other and their surroundings in often unexpected ways.
"We're likely to see different habitats form than what we see now," said T. Douglas Beard Jr., who heads the U.S. Geological Survey's National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center. "What we don't understand is how these new communities will be assembled. So if you get a whole new type of flora, a whole new type of forest that no one's ever seen before ... it's pretty unknown which species are going to be able to flourish and those that will struggle."
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