11 U.S. Species Endangered by Climate Change

A bald eagle swooping down from the sky

Hmomoy / Flickr

A new report by the Endangered Species Coalition with the American Bird Conservancy, Defenders of Wildlife and the Center for Biological Diversity, has ranked America's top 11 species most at risk from climate change. You might be surprised to know which cornerstone species we stand to lose if America doesn't act to reduce its carbon emissions.

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Jack Jeffrey, Courtesy of Endangered Species Coalition.

First on the list is Hawaii's Akikiki or Kaua'i creeper, a type of native honeycreeper. Nearly all of Hawaii's endemic birds have been decimated by introduced species. But it's the mosquito — accidentally introduced to the islands in the early 1800s by European colonizers — that has most damaged the Akikiki by spreading avian malaria. The last safe haven for the birds lies in the high-altitude, cool mountains of Kauaʻi — a place too cool for mosquitoes to thrive. Global warming is on track to take away this safe place.

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Elkhorn coral


Elkhorn coral are among the most important reef-building coral found in the Caribbean and Florida. All across Florida's reefs, the corals are steadily bleaching due to the ocean's rising temperature. As the oceans warm, they also become more acidic, hampering the ability of corals to build their protective skeletons.

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Bull trout

public domain/Wiki Commons.

Third on the list are bull trout, which can be found in the streams of Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. Like many freshwater fish, the bull trout's reproduction requires cold water and very low amounts of silt, both of which are negatively impacted by road building, logging and warming. Bull trout are considered a management indicator species for several national forests, including Boise National Forest and Sawtooth National Forest.

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Canadian lynx


Populations of Canadian lynx can be found in the mountains of Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming. They rely on cold, snowy winters and higher altitudes for a suitable habitat. As temperatures rise with global warming, that habitat is predicted to move up in altitude and north in latitude.

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Pacific salmon

Utah~Dave AA7IZ/Flickr.

A vital part of the food chain for humans and wildlife, salmon are threatened across the Pacific coast. Already threatened by dams and overfishing, salmonids typically die when exposed for a length of time to fresh water temperatures above 72 degrees. Global warming has pushed the average summer temperatures of many West Coast river systems above that mortality threshold.

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Leatherback sea turtles

Brian Hutchinson via Livescience.

Leatherback sea turtles nest on the beaches of Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This remarkable species is the largest of all living sea turtles and the fourth-largest modern reptile behind three crocodilians, but their nesting sites are universally threatened by global climate change.

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Grizzly bears


Often overshadowed by the polar bear, grizzlies are also threatened by global warming. The bears are denning later in the fall because of the changing climate, which leads to more hunter-bear interaction and a decline in food sources.

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Bog turtles

man of mud/Flickr.

These tiny, charismatic reptilians are the only species of turtle protected under the Federal Endangered Species Act. They are considered threatened at the federal level and endangered in several states. Global warming is likely to alter hydrological cycles, which will either dry out or flood what remains of this turtle's habitat.

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Western prairie fringed orchid

J. Challey via U.S. Forest Service.

The only plant on the list — at number nine — is the Western prairie fringed orchid. It can be found in Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska and North Dakota, but global warming threatens to alter the rainfall patterns that maintain the distinctive Prairie potholes, the seasonal wetlands of the Great Plains. Changes in those weather patterns are certain to threaten the flower's habitat.

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Flatwoods salamander

public domain/Wiki Commons.

Occurring only in the Southeastern coastal plain of the United States, the flatwoods salamander will have no where to go when droughts become more frequent and intense in the South. Their eggs hatch in response to rising water levels in the ponds where they live, meaning that widespread, seasonal drought could quickly wipe out these populations.

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Polar bears

Wiki Commons.

Last, but certainly not least on the list, are the polar bears. The polar bear was the first mammal to be listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act due primarily to global warming. Its habitat is literally disappearing beneath its feet due to shrinking sea ice levels. Global warming will affect the Arctic more than any other habitat, with temperatures likely to increase at about twice the global average.