Climate crisis: Burrowing animals surviving better than birds in overheating deserts, study reveals

As if living in a desert wasn't difficult enough, global warming is turning the heat up to unbearable levels for some animals, writes Harry Cockburn

Thursday 04 February 2021 23:11 GMT
A raven in Death Valley, part of the Mojave Desert in California
A raven in Death Valley, part of the Mojave Desert in California (Getty)

The Mojave Desert is a hot, arid and unforgiving environment, but the 50,000 square mile landscape which stretches into four US states is getting hotter quickly due to the climate crisis, presenting new challenges for the animals which call it home.

A new study has found that small burrowing mammals such as the cactus mouse, the kangaroo rat and the white-tailed antelope squirrel are weathering the hotter, drier conditions triggered by global heating much better than birds, researchers at the University of California report.

The desert has been rapidly warming over the last century, with average temperatures up by 2C for the desert as a whole, while there has also been a 10 - 20 per cent decrease in precipitation over the same time period.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in