How will these changes affect the nature and wildlife of this region

Climate change may continue to alter many aspects of life in Maplewood. For examples, as the region becomes warmer, drier and experiences more extreme events, the following impacts are likely to occur:
(References 20-22)

  • Animals and plants become stressed from too much heat and too much or too little water;
  • Rivers, lakes and wetlands become more polluted from increased stormwater run–off, which picks up sewage, garbage, fertilizer etc. that then flows into these waterways;
  • Invasive species and pests become more prevalent;
  • Decoupling of important life cycle events occur.

This last example, the decoupling of important life cycle events, such as the timing of migrations and flowering, are likely to occur due to organisms responding differently, and at different rates, to changes in climate. Desynchronization of these relationships will have important consequences for how organisms at different levels of the food web interact with one another. For example, based on observations made by Eric Gyllenhaal in Chicago (Reference 23) in spring 2011, Elm leaf beetles, American Elm trees and Nashville warblers have a tightly synchronized food web interaction in this region. As new leaves appear on the trees in the spring, Elm leaf beetle larvae emerge at the same time to take advantage of this food resource. Migratory warblers typically appear at this time, feeding on the larvae and acting as a natural pest control for the Elms. Spring green-up, however, is already shifting in this region, evidenced by Oak trees now leafing out approximately 2 weeks earlier. As the warm-up continues to advance, and organisms such as trees and insects responding to temperature cues begin to emerge earlier, a mismatch between food availability and that of avian migratory timing could take occur. This would impact the insectivorous migrant birds, and their ability to provide the form of natural pest control for the Elm trees.