The polar bear appears to have become the animal that represents the drastic affects of climate change and the impact this has on our biodiversity.
At Copenhagen, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) released a report that listed 10 species that will be particularly affected by environmental changes impacting upon their natural habitats.
The Arctic fox is likely to be affected as the global warming will affect its habitat. As warming temperatures allow new plant species from the south to colonise the region, large extents of tundra habitat are expected to be replaced by boreal forests which is not suitable for the arctic foxes.
The Leatherback turtles are under threat as their beaches are being washed away according to the report; the rising temperature during egg incubation leads to a disproportionately lower numbers of males. These gentle creatures are also sadly still becoming entangled in fishermen’s nets, so these beautiful giants are being threatened by the actions of humans at every turn.
The ice is melting and the ringed seal’s reproduction is being disrupted as this is where they live and breed. The ringed seal is not under threat as it is a highly adaptable creature, however it is a question of if they can adapt at the same speed as the climate changes. Emperor Penguins are predicted to lose sea ice platforms for breeding also and they face changes in food availability.
Salmon may not stack up as a “flagship” species, but this is one of the species that we can actually purchase in our supermarkets. Scientists have listed the salmon as their home streams have been experiencing changes in flow rate due to earlier snow melt. Their habitats are warming and altering the seasonal flow, which will affect the availability of their food.
No story about animals and global warming could be complete without a mention of the majestic and proud animal that is the polar bear that has long been the symbol of endangered animals. Their habitats are disappearing at rates too fast for them to adapt to, and there is also the problem of hunting. Other species mentioned in the report are beluga whales, clown fish, and koala and staghorn coral.
Sadly the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference ended with disappointing results. The authors of the IUCN study state that if CO2 levels rise to 650 parts per million by 2100 and an average temperate of 5.4 degrees F, then this would result in equal extinction for essentially all of the species mentioned plus many more. Let us all hope that the summit in Mexico (Dec 2010) will yeald better results.
Follow us on Twitter @just4theplanet1