List of Animals Threatened by Climate Change

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Climate change impacts all animals, but some more than others, suggests a new report issued by the Wildlife Conservation Society. 

The report, "Species Feeling the Heat: Connecting Deforestation and Climate Change," was released today just as representatives from 190 different countries are meeting in Copenhagen to discuss global efforts to control industrial emissions and the warming of the planet.

The WCS report profiles more than a dozen animal species and groups that are facing threats due to climate change impacts. These include:

-changing land and sea temperatures

-shifting rain patterns

-exposure to new pathogens and disease

-increased threats of predation

-deforestation

Did you know that nearly 20 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions are due to deforestation? That's more than the output of all of the world's trucks, trains, cars, planes and other modes of transportation. 

Also, as the report points out, we need to rethink our image of animals affected by climate change.

"The image of a forlorn looking polar bear on a tiny ice floe has become the public's image of climate change in nature, but the impact reaches species in nearly every habitat in the world's wild places," said Steven E. Sanderson, president and CEO of the WCS. "In fact, our own researchers are observing direct impacts on a wide range of species across the world."

(Image: Musk ox; Credi: Steve Zack)

Here are just a few:

  • Bicknell’s thrush, a bird species that breeds and nests in the higher elevations on mountains in northeastern North America. Slight increases in temperature threaten this bird’s breeding habitat.
  • Flamingos, a group including several species that are threatened by climate change impacts that affect the availability and quality of wetland habitat in the Caribbean, South America, Asia, and Africa.
  • Irrawaddy dolphin, a coastal species that relies on the flow of fresh water from estuaries in Bangladesh and elsewhere in Southeast Asia. Changes in freshwater flow and salinity may have an impact on the species' long-term survival.
  • Musk ox, a species that exists in the harsh environment of the Arctic Tundra. It faces a higher predation risk by grizzly bears, as more bears may move northward into the musk oxen’s tundra home.
  • Hawksbill turtle, an ocean-going reptile with temperature dependent biology. Specifically, higher temperatures result in more female hatchlings, a factor that could impact the species’ long-term survival by skewing sex ratios.

"Aside from all of the current political disagreements on meteorological data, we can say with certainty that climate change is threatening our planet with significant losses to wildlife and wild places," concluded Sanderson.

The new report features some beautiful full-color photographs and other information. Take a look: Download SpeciesBrochure.fin2.12.2

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