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Part XVI : Seasonal Changes in animal Populations

Animals in Spring - a time to reproduce and increase in numbers
Insects in Spring

Topic Chapters Index

 

More information on how animals survive the Winter from other sections of the ODWS

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European deer © Shirley Burchill

European deer

 

Fox in the garden, Sheffield, UK © Shirley Burchill

Fox in the garden, Sheffield, UK

SEASONAL CHANGES IN ANIMAL POPULATIONS

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How Do the Animals in the Biosphere Change from One Season to Another?

 

Woodmouse collecting seeds in September © Paul Billiet

Wood mouse collecting seeds in September

 

Animals are found in all climates from the coldest to the hottest. They can be observed from very high altitudes to many kilometers below the sea. If a certain zone is studied for a whole year, it is possible to notice that the animals which inhabit that zone change from season to season. Certain types of birds, for example, seem to disappear in the cold months of winter only to reappear in the spring. Like plant populations, animal populations vary greatly in the course of a year.

 

Animals in Winter

Winter can be very challenging for animals. Some of the same problems which face plants in winter also face animals: freezing temperatures, lack of water, and fewer hours of sunlight during the day.

 

Bird prints in the snow, Sheffield, UK © Shirley Burchill

Fox prints in the snow, Sheffield, UK © Shirley Burchill

 

In order to remain active, animals need a good food supply throughout the winter. Large herbivores, such as deer, do not get cold very quickly and they can usually find enough food during the winter months. Instead of eating grass and herbs which may be covered in deep snow, they may have to eat the bark of trees and the branches and shoots of bushes.

Carnivorous mammals and birds may bunt for herbivores which are still active. For example, foxes can still find mice, voles or rabbits to eat in winter. If, however, a carnivore specializes in insects (an insectivore) it may find no food at all in the winter months.

Animals which are not adapted to cold weather, however, need to find other solutions to the problems of survival. There are two main techniques of survival : migration and hibernation.

 

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