Northeast CASC scientists describe how warming winters are impacting wildlife in New England.
How Warmer Winters are Impacting Wildlife in the Northeast
Northeast CASC Research Ecologist Toni Lynn Morelli and Fellow Jahiya Clark were interviewed for a story in the Cape Cod Times to explain how warmer winters are affecting wildlife in the Northeast. They explained how warmer temperatures and changes in snowpack are affecting the timing of when animals like groundhogs wake from hibernation, and the ability of snowshoe hares to match their surroundings with a seasonal white or brown coat--an important trait that allows them to camouflage and avoid predators.
They also discussed how warmer winters are benefitting problematic species like ticks and the invasive kudzu vine. Warmer temperatures and decreased snow cover allow ticks to survive the winter season, leading to increased population numbers and threatening vulnerable wildlife like young moose. Meanwhile, kudzu, known as "the vine that ate the South", is moving northward, no longer limited by winters that were once too harsh.