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    Climate change shifts sheep shape

    I was hoping to find a funny story to share over the weekend. Didn't find what I was looking for unless you happen to find idiocy amusing.

    Microevolution in action! Nah. Stupid people with degrees and a political agenda to prove using isolated data points.

    Go outside, meet a sheep, meet a sheep herder, ask how the price of lamb meet has fluctuated through the past 20 years, and mutton, and wool, and land rental, and feed, and at least another dozen factors which would influence how meat animals are raised in a given period - THEN report back.

    Until then you self described "scientists" are nothing more than another set useless toads.

    As for posting on LEF I realize its off topic beyond maybe some sheep/sheepdog jokes. Still, most of you have kids, and this sort of nonsense will be spoon fed to them soon.

    Still looking for something funny.


    Climate change shifts sheep shape

    Soay sheep (F.Pelletier)
    Soay sheep live on a remote island in the Outer Hebrides
    Climate change could have an impact on animal evolution and ecology, scientists believe.

    A 20-year study of Scottish sheep found weather patterns were driving changes in body shape and population size.

    Harsh winters led to larger sheep, which brought about changes in population size, yet in milder winters this effect was not seen.

    The team says the study, published in the journal Science, is the first to connect these different factors.

    "Until now, it has proven really quite difficult to show how ecology and evolutionary change are linked, but we have developed a way to tie them together," said Tim Coulson, an author of the paper and a scientist at Imperial College London.

    Dr Coulson and colleagues did this by examining a population of Soay sheep on the island of Hirta in the Outer Hebrides.

    "The reason we looked at these sheep is they have been studied in enormous detail. Where they live is like a natural laboratory - it is a really simple system - there is just sheep and grass on the island," Dr Coulson explained.

    Reproductive success

    The scientists looked at data recorded since 1985, analysing sheep population sizes and body measurements.

    "To determine how ecology influences evolution and vice versa, an important step is to be able to see how population dynamics are influenced by traits such as body size or eye colour that are, in part, controlled by genes."

    The researchers discovered body size was linked to animal numbers: when lots of large sheep came into the population, the numbers tended to fluctuate quite widely, possibly because body size is linked to reproductive success.

    But the researchers also discovered the sheep's body size was in turn influenced by their environment.

    "We used a measure of how bad the winters were in Scotland, and this has been changing over the duration of the study," said Dr Coulson.

    During the harsher winters in the 1980s, the data showed big sheep were genetically favoured, he said.

    "But over the years, winters have been getting a little bit better; and as winters have got better, we have found there is not as much natural selection for large animals as we saw in the past, as there is less advantage to being big."

    He said the study revealed how environmental factors were driving evolutionary and ecological change, and predicted that as the climate changed, and winters became less frequently harsh, the sheep would get smaller and the population size would be more stable.

    "People have argued for a long time that climate change is leaving an ecological legacy, but we have shown it will leave an evolutionary legacy too," he added.

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    Jenna's Avatar
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    Global warming is baaaaaaaaaad!



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