While world leaders fret over how
best to combat climate change, many animals and plants are already feeling the
effects. Here are 11 species, as chosen by the International Union For
Conservation of Nature’s climate change specialist group, which are under
threat from global warming.
gulls, whose numbers in the Canadian Arctic have dropped 80 percent, are seeing their foraging
habitat shrink rapidly due to global warming.
Credit: Bjørn Frantzen
Lemuroid Ringtail Possum
The Lemuroid Ringtail Possum is restricted to two small areas of upland cloud rainforest in the Australian Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. Unable to tolerate temperatures above 28 degrees Celsius (82 degrees Fahrenheit) and sensitive to heat waves, the rare white form of the species (pictured here) is projected to disappear this century.
Credit: Mike Trenerry
Ringed seals, which live in Arctic
sea ice habitats year-round, are in rapid decline as ice melts. They are born in snow lairs, mate under
the sea ice and use the sea ice as a resting platform in other seasons of the
year. They also feed largely on ice-associated prey.
Credit: Kit Kovacs
The Lungless Frog of Borneo lives much of its life in fast and cold streams and rivers in Indonesia. As waters warm and the oxygen rates decline, the frog could find these waterways uninhabitable. Climate change is also expected to bring more floods and droughts to the region, which could impact the frog.
Credit: David Bickford
The Quiver tree in Namibia and in the Northern Cape of South
Africa thrives in desert and semi-desert climatic conditions. Known for its
large succulent leaves and a water-storing system, the trees could contract in
the north and central parts of its range as temperatures rise.
Credit: Wendy Foden
Credit: Con Foley
Found only on the Hawaiian island of Maui, the
Haleakalā silversword plant is restricted to high elevations on the dormant Haleakalā
volcano. Shifting weather patterns (and particularly increased temperature and
a decrease in rainfall) are causing adult plants to die, and reducing the
survival of new seedlings.
Credit: Paul Krushelnycky
As global warming
reshapes the Antarctic coast, the Adélie penguin could be one of the many
species that suffers. The loss of sea ice coverage is expected to negatively
impact its annual migration and winter survival while projected heavier
snowfall could reduce the suitability of nest sites.
Credit: Ben Lascelles
small microhylid frog lives only on the tip of a single mountain top in the
Australia Wet Tropics cloud forest. It is a direct developing frog which means
it lays its eggs in the leaf litter and the eggs hatch directly into small frogs.
With longer and harsher dry seasons, potential declines in rainfall and a
higher cloud base projected, this species is potentially in deep trouble.
Credit: Stephen Williams
The African Lungfish is a carnivorous fish which feeds on mollusks, frogs, fish, crabs and insects. When flood plains dry
up, it secretes a thin slime that allows it to survive up to a year. But as
precipitation patterns shift with climate change, it may not be able to survive
extended periods of drought.
Credit: Timo Moritz
Polar bear numbers in
parts of Alaska and Canada have declined by almost half, as thinning sea ice
makes it increasingly difficult for them to hunt down seals, which are a key
part of their diet. Scientists, led by researchers at the U.S.
Geological Survey, have found polar bear numbers in the southern Beaufort Sea
dropped about 40 percent, to 900, from 2000 to 2010.