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The effects of climate change are already apparent on wildlife, habitats and the natural resources we depend on. Climate change has caused species extinctions, shifted species ranges towards the poles and up the sides of mountains, and reduced the ranges of other species.
Canada Lynx, © Jean Pierre Grosemans
Climate change impacts in lynx habitats include rising temperatures and precipitation shifts. These factors will have a direct impact on two critical features of lynx habitat: the presence of boreal forest, and the extent of winter snow cover.
The effects of climate change are already being felt by wildlife and natural systems, and even with immediate action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, these effects will continue for decades to come. Natural resource managers are just coming to grips with what this means for the future of conservation strategies.
With a mix of temperate and tropical, arid and wetlands, forests, grasslands, and islands, Florida is one of the most biologically rich states in the U.S., with 755 vertebrate species and over 30,000 invertebrate species. Florida boasts an incredible array of plants, wildlife, and unique habitats.
The Hawaiian Islands, formed over millions of years by volcanic activity in the Pacific Ocean, are comprised of eight major islands and 800 miles of small islands, atolls, and coral reefs that form the Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge. The most isolated island chain on Earth, the archipelago is one of the world’s hotspots of endangered biodiversity.
Marine food webs are changing, and for the birds, marine mammals and fish that depend on them, not for the better. Climate changes are altering patterns of nutrient upwellings, timing of fish spawning, and generally upsetting the food web, forcing more of the seabirds and marine mammals to travel longer distances to find food or to rely on suboptimal prey that offer less caloric reward for the effort expended in capturing them.
Not all deserts are the same—in fact, the state of Arizona has four distinct deserts, differentiated by their geography, elevation, rainfall patterns, and plant and animal species. The Sonoran Desert encompasses 120,000 square miles of southwestern Arizona, southeastern California, and in Mexico, northwestern Sonora and most of the Baja Peninsula. With nearly 3500 species of plants, 500 species of birds, and 1,000 species of bees, the Sonoran is the most biodiverse desert on earth.
The world’s oceans play a tremendously important role in the global dynamics of the carbon dioxide (CO2) that is released by the burning of fossil fuels, the clearing of forests, and industrial processes.
Suitable pika habitat is restricted to regions of less than 30 days per year above 95°F. They keep their warm winter coats year-round, and are thus very sensitive to air temperatures above about 75°F. Long exposure to these temperatures kills them outright. The climate warming we have experienced over the last century is already having an effect, particularly in the southern part of their range – New Mexico, Nevada, California and Utah.
Assessing the vulnerability of wildlife to climate change is a key part of the adaptation planning process and helps practitioners design effective adaptation strategies. Vulnerability refers to the degree to which a species or other conservation target (such as a habitat type) is likely to experience harm from a threat such as climate change.