10 species to watch in 2010

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As 2009 drew to a close, WWF released its annual list of some of the most threatened species around the world, calling for a step up in efforts to save some of the world’s most imperiled animals. This year’s watch list includes five species directly impacted by climate change. 
 
5 species impacted by climate change. Copyright WWF-Canon
 
  • Tiger: While habitat loss and poaching are the primary threats to tigers (habitat has decreased by 40% over the past ten years), sea level rise, due to climate change, threatens the mangrove habitat of a key tiger population in Bangladesh’s and India’s Sundarban Tigers.
  • Polar Bear: Typically identified as the iconic symbol for climate change impacts on wildlife, polar bears were recently (2008) designated as a threatened species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Polar bears will be vulnerable to extinction within the next century, if warming trends in the Arctic continue at the current pace.
  • Pacific Walrus: This species is one of the latest victims of climate change. Just four months ago (September 2009), up to 200 dead walruses were spotted on the shore of the Chukchi Sea on Alaska’s northwest coast. These animals use floating ice for resting, birthing and nursing calves, and protection from predators. With Arctic ice melting, the Pacific walrus is experiencing habitat loss to the extent that in September 2009, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that adding the walrus to the Endangered Species Act may be warranted. See As Arctic Sea Ice Reaches Annual Minimum, Large Number of Walrus Corpses Found Along Alaska Shoreline.
  • Magellanic Penguin: Once threatened primarily by oil spills, these penguins now face a larger threat as fish are displaced by warming ocean currents, forcing the birds to swim farther to find food. Last year hundreds of Magellanic penguins washed up on beaches around Rio de Janeiro, many emaciated or dead. Scientists have speculated that changes in ocean currents or temperatures, which may be related to climate change, could have been responsible for their movement more than a thousand miles north of their traditional nesting area in the southern tip of Argentina. 
  • Leatherback Sea Turtle: The largest marine turtle and one of the largest living reptiles, the leatherback turtle, has survived for more than a hundred million years, but is now facing extinction. Leatherback Sea Turtles are listed as critically endangered by the IUCN. While fishing fleets have caused population decline, rising sea levels and higher temperatures on Atlantic beaches pose a new threat to turtles and their offspring. Nest temperature strongly determines the sex of offspring, and a nest warming trend is reducing the number of male turtles.
 
Many other species are being impacted by climate change. Find out which species near you are being affected.
 
Additional posts on species impacted by climate change:
 

 

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