Flamingos, dolphin facing threats due to climate change impacts

Last Updated: Tue, Dec 08, 2009 20:21 hrs

Washington: The Wildlife Conservation Society has released a list of animals facing new impacts by climate change, some in strange and unexpected ways.

The report, titled, "Species Feeling the Heat: Connecting Deforestation and Climate Change," has profiled more than a dozen animal species and groups that are facing threats due to climate change impacts, including changing land and sea temperatures; shifting rain patterns; exposure to new pathogens and disease; and increased threats of predation.

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The report also highlights the huge role of deforestation in climate change.

Nearly 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions are the result of deforestation, more than the output of all the world's trucks, trains, cars, planes, and ships combined, so protecting the remaining swaths of the world's forests can help put the breaks on climate change.

"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," said Dr. Steven E. Sanderson, President and CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society.

"In fact, our own researchers are observing direct impacts on a wide range of species across the world," he added.

The report contains a cross-section of animal species around the globe, including, Bicknell's thrush, a bird species that breeds and nests in the higher elevations on mountains in northeastern North America.

Slight increases in temperature threaten this bird's breeding habitat.

Also, flamingos, a group including several species are threatened by climate change impacts that affect the availability and quality of wetland habitat in the Caribbean, South America, Asia, and Africa.

The report also mentions the Irrawaddy dolphin, a coastal species that relies on the flow of fresh water from estuaries in Bangladesh and elsewhere in Southeast Asia.

Changes in freshwater flow and salinity may have an impact on the species long-term survival.

A species that is also at risk is the musk ox, which exists in the harsh environment of the Arctic Tundra.

This Pleistocene faces a higher predation risk by grizzly bears, as more bears may move northward into the musk oxen's tundra home.

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