quinta-feira, 29 de setembro de 2011

Climate Change: 13 Animals Facing Future Dangers

Peccary, Irrawaddy Dolphin, Magellanic Penguin, Bicknell's Thrush, Lake Trout, Hawksbill Turtle
(Images via: Telegraph, Alaporte, Naturalist, Trek Nature, Reef News, Midwest Trout Fishing)
According to a new report from the Wildlife Conservation Society, emission of green house gases into the atmosphere as a result of cutting and burning down trees could produce climate-related changes that wipe out approximately one-quarter of land-based animals and plants by the year 2050. In addition to deforestation, global warming and other climate changes could have far-reaching effects in different parts of the globe, with dolphins, amphibians, turtles, penguins and many other animals possibly affected.

Climate Effects on Bicknell’s Thrush and Buff-Breasted Sandpipers

Bicknell's Thrush and Buff-Breasted Sandpiper
(Images via: Hilton Pond, ABA, Pewit, Am Trips)
According to the report, Bicknell’s thrush (top images), a songbird that breeds in North America, could lose more than half of its mountaintop breeding habitats as a result of just a 1 degree Celsius increase brought on by climate change. Buff-breasted sandpipers (bottom images), a shorebird that breeds on the coastal plains of Arctic Alaska, have been nesting in this region 10 days earlier than in the past because of climate changes, consequently bringing insect prey to the area earlier than ever before.

Fleeting Pursuits of the Magellanic Penguin

Magellanic Penguins
(Images via: Brutus Ostling, Penguins Land, First Stryke, Journal Scene)
Did you know that the largest breeding colony of Magellanic penguins in Patagonia has declined by nearly 1 percent in each of the last 20 years? Changes in ocean temperatures have made it more difficult for these penguins to reproduce, which have been laying eggs much later in the season. And with it more difficult to find available prey, these penguins have had to swim farther away from their nests in search of food, leaving potential offspring susceptible to uninhibited, larger predators.

Plights of the Peccary, Chiru, Musk Ox, Wolverine and Lemming

White-Lipped Peccary, Chiru, Musk Ox, Wolverine, Lemming
(Images via: Flickr, Wildlife One, It’s Nature, Flickr, FHSU Kams)
Dependent on shallow ponds to survive dry seasons in Central and South America, the white-lipped peccary (top left image) could suffer population declines if these water sources dry up as a result of climate changes, according to the new report. Such declines would also adversely affect jaguars, which often feed on the peccary. Living on the high Tibetan Plateau, the chiru (top right) could be in danger if their migratory patterns are altered by predicted temperature increases of 4 to 5 degrees Celsius. Already declining in the North American Arctic tundra, the musk ox (bottom right) is struggling to deal with the effects of a warming climate on its habitat, including the migration of predatory grizzly bears to these Arctic plains and foothills. Similar warming of winter habitats could impact the wolverine (bottom middle) and lemming (bottom left), both of which burrow in the snow for warmth and protection from predators.

Endangered Sea Turtles, Whales, Trout, Amphibians and Irrawaddy Dolphins

Hawksbill Turtles, Bowhead Whale, Lake Trout, Amphibian
(Images via: Amazing Indonesia, Barely Imagined Beings, Red Orbit, Flickr)
Irrawaddy Dolphins
(Images via: Daily Mail, TDE, BBC)
The Wildlife Conservation Society report also notes how climate changes are threatening hawksbill turtles and other sea turtles, specifically by causing sea levels to rise and increasing the temperatures of nesting beaches, which could affect population sex ratios since warmer weather tends to produce more female sea turtle hatchlings. As for bowhead whales that live in polar conditions marked by heavy ice, global warming could severely change their habitats, forcing them to make some very difficult adaptations. In a similar light, lake trout that live in deep, cold lakes may be put at a disadvantage if warming changes their habitats, which may no longer be suitable for them as opposed to other fish species. According to the report’s findings, many amphibian species have already been redistributed or completely disappeared from view due to increasing temperatures that have forced them to leave mountaintops in Peru, and the long-term survival of Irrawaddy dolphins could be in jeopardy due to rising sea levels and many other expected climate changes in Bangladesh.
For more information on how climate changes affect these and other animals, see the Wildlife Conservation Society report: Species Feeling the Heat: Connecting Deforestation & Climate Change.

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