So, it’s summer, and it feels even warmer than last year and it’s barely rained. Most of us don’t have air conditioning at homes, but we can still go places that do to beat the heat, and (for now) it’s easy enough to turn on the water. Wild species don’t have those options. How do they combat high temperatures and lack of water in the summer?
Puget Sound’s climate is technically Mediterranean, with warm and dry in the summers that are exacerbated by the city’s cement and our control and capture of water for human use. Summer heat can be a serious challenge for plants and animals a like, and adaptive behaviors and physical traits help them avoid overheating or loosing vital moisture. Below are a few examples we can see on the Hill.
The Mid-Day Siesta
Many animals have figured out that being active during the height of the day ends with overheating and dehydration. We hear birdsong in the morning and evening because it’s less costly to be active then. Coyotes don’t simply retreat into the night as crafty little brigands, avoiding detection, but also because it’s far simpler to hunt using other senses and beat the heat. An extreme example of lowering activity levels in the face of higher temperature and drought is called estivation. Essentially a version of hibernation that addresses moisture levels by lowering vitals to a bare minimum, many invertebrates, like earthworms, slugs, and snails find a quiet places to wait out the drought and estevate. Continue reading