The Wildlife Conservation Society Connects the Dots between Climate Change and Species Decline

pink flamingo photo

Image credit: stevehdc/Flickr

The Wildlife Conservation Society has released a new report detailing the effects of climate change on a range of species. The report profiles more than a dozen species and outlines threats that include: "changing land and sea temperatures; shifting rain patterns; exposure to new pathogens and disease; and increased threats of predation."

Publication of the report is meant to coincide with the COP15 currently underway in Copenhagen and with the initiation, in 2010, of the United Nation's "International Year of Biodiversity."The report stresses that, since the Convention on Biodiversity was founded at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, it has failed to meet any of its targets for 2010. It underscores, the authors argue, the dire situation wildlife around the world faces as a result of climate change, deforestation, and other contributing factors.

Understanding that these contributing factors are related is an important part of assessing the condition of wildlife around the world. Take, for example, Bicknell's thrush. The report states that a change in mean temperature of just a single degree would decrease the bird's breeding habitat by half. Then, there is the hawksbill turtle. Because it's sex is determined by temperature, increasing averages during breeding periods could displace the ratio of male and female turtles.

Dr. Steven E. Sanderson, WCS President and CEO, commented that:

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.

The solution, the report offers, will begin with "saving wildlife and wild places in specific locales," then adds that, "small programs can become large building blocks if the global community stands ready to encourage them."

But, Dr. Sanderson explains, discouraging deforestation by creating a value for uncut forests is also critically important. Implementing a REDD program, he argues, would be an important step in that direction.

Prepare for the Sixth Great Extinction at Planet Green
Read more about animals and climate change:
9 Ways Climate Change Has Animals Running (Flying and Swimming) for Their Lives
Should Humans Assist Animals Migrate So Climate Change Doesn't Kill Them?
Half of All Animal Species Will Be Extinct in Your Lifetime, Unless Emissions Peak by 2020

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