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Drought: what consequences for birds, fish, bees...?

2022-08-12T10:57:51.181Z

Thirsty and weakened, wildlife struggle to survive due to lack of water and the degradation or even disappearance of their habitat.



The level of the rivers decreases, the flow of the rivers weakens, the humidity gives way to dryness in the soil.

Evidence that the water is gradually disappearing by evaporating into the air, thus increasing the temperatures already high in these scorching times.

An alarming situation both for humans, who see their water resources reduced, but also for wildlife, condemned to dehydration.

No species is spared by this exceptional drought, July 2022 being the driest month ever recorded in France since 1959, according to

La Chaîne Météo*

.

This phenomenon is explained by a rainfall deficit of “

20% on average

” since this winter, preventing groundwater from filling up properly.

La Chaîne Météo

also evokes an already very dry spring in 2022, “

ranked third in the rank of the driest springs

”.

Habitat disturbance

The modification, or even the disappearance, of the habitat of wild animals is one of the consequences of drought on biodiversity.

In the forest, for example, vegetation is essential to the proper functioning of the environment.

According to Jonathan Lenoir, a CNRS researcher, trees “

play a cooling role

”, comparable to an “

air conditioning system

”.

The animals protect themselves from the heat thanks to the leaves, and the insects get hydrated thanks to the water contained in the plants.

However, this coolness dissipates in the extreme heat, causing the trees to go into "

energy-saving mode

" and stop "

photosynthesis ".

explains the scientist from the Ecology and Dynamics of Anthropic Systems Laboratory.

"

It's as if we had pressed the 'off' button on the air conditioning

" because "

the plants stop sweating, therefore diffusing water into the air, like a fogger

", analyzes Jonathan Lenoir.

Read alsoDrought: seven maps to understand the consequences in the French departments

Aquatic environments are also disturbed by the waves of heat waves.

According to Eaufrance, “

the decrease in the flow

” of rivers caused by the dryness of the soil, “

promotes the increase in the temperature of the water

”;

modifying its quality, in particular its "

quantity of oxygen

which gradually decreases.

This phenomenon also leads to an increasing development of algae, likely to release toxic gas for wildlife.

Faced with these major changes, fish and other aquatic species cannot adapt.

All the more so when the rivers are completely or partially dried up, as was the case in the Gorges du Verdon in Provence, or in Loire-Atlantique at Ancenis.

The fish then suffer the deadly effects of global warming.

Many fish rescues have been carried out all over France.

France 3 Hauts-de-France

reports an operation carried out in a river in Picardy, whose temperature had reached 27 degrees.

"

130 carp were found dead

",

What are the consequences for their health?

When wild animals find themselves in an extreme climatic situation, their organisms generate “

stress

”, informs Serge Morand, researcher at the CNRS.

In this state, living beings put “

their immune functions on standby

”, which therefore makes them more vulnerable to the risk of infection, specifies the researcher specializing in infectious diseases.

Several reasons are responsible for these animal anxieties.

  • Inability to regulate one's temperature

Not all species are equal when it comes to heat.

Some, like mammals or birds, are "

capable of regulating their body temperature

" by sweating, says Jonathan Lenoir, but this "

requires a lot of energy from them

".

Others do not have this ability, such as amphibians (frogs, toads, newts...), reptiles and insects.

Dependent on their environment, these species go in search of freshness under plants or in water.

However, because of the drought, they no longer find any place to take refuge.

  • Inability to hydrate

Heat-thirsty animals face an unprecedented lack of water.

If all species are concerned, birds remain particularly affected according to the League for the Protection of Birds (LPO).

Contacted by Le

Figaro

, Nicolas Macaire, member of the association, says that beyond the vital need to drink, birds need water to "

clean their plumage two to three times a day

", in order to "

remove parasites or dirt particles

.

Read alsoDrought: the rivers of France at a worrying level

  • Feeding difficulties

The vegetation has dried under the scorching rays of the sun, taking with it all the nutrients and species it sheltered, decrypts Serge Morand.

For example, to resist the heat, the flowers will retain their nectar, the function of which is to attract bees to forage.

Its absence will lead to "

deficiencies

" in these bees, which have become more "

fragile

" and less "

resistant

" for the winter, reports

France 3 Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur

.

Moreover, during a heat wave, the bees will be busy “

cooling the inside of the hive

” by flapping their wings to ventilate it.

An “extremely tiring task

that requires them to consume provisions

planned for the winter, according to the local media.

Aggravating factors

In addition to the consequences of heat waves, there are also those of human infrastructure, which have become deadly threats with the drought.

Roads and roofs, which reach extreme temperatures due to the heat, pose a great danger to wildlife.

Many leave their lives there, such as "

young black swifts

" or "

swallows

" which fall from their nests, transformed into furnaces because they are located under roofs, informs Nicolas Macaire of the LPO.

Several of our volunteers have recovered from them in a state of dehydration

” because

“when they are on the ground, the parents have difficulty feeding them

".

The association has a network of care centers throughout the national territory, with no less than 8,000 active volunteers to help wildlife, particularly in distress this year.

Read alsoA worrying drought with no sign of improvement

The multiple fires, mainly located in the south of France, accentuate the deadly effect of the drought.

"

The fire that broke

out in Brittany

destroyed a large number of protected insects, amphibians, reptiles and mammals such as the European otter

", regrets Nicolas Macaire.

In Gironde, where the fires resumed, many wild animals had been injured, killed or found in respiratory distress.

An alarming situation that worries scientists.

"

The drought, the heat wave and the fires should not be repeated every year, otherwise we will lose a lot of trees

", warns Jonathan Lenoir.

"

Some species will die for lack of water and weakening of plants

“, laments the researcher.

Last year,

the IPCC report

explained that we had to expect phenomena closer and closer, we are there

”, he concludes.

*The Weather Channel is a property of the Figaro group.

Source: lefigaro

All tech articles on 2022-08-12

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