Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Five of climate 'hit list' species in Canada

Canadian species among most threatened by climate change
Vancouver Sun: Canada is home to five of the 10 new 'hit list' species identified as the likeliest victims of climate change by IUCN, a leading global nature organization. The International Union for Conservation of Nature, the world's largest and oldest network of environmental scientists, has listed the Arctic fox, leatherback turtle, beluga whale, salmon and ringed seal among 10 species 'destined to be hardest hit by climate change.'...

'The polar bear has come to symbolize the impacts of climate change on the natural world,' the IUCN report (.pdf) states. 'But it is only one of a multitude of species affected.' The new 'flagship species' placed in the spotlight were 'chosen to represent the impact that climate change is likely to have on land and in our oceans and rivers.'...

In detailing the risks faced by the Arctic fox, the IUCN highlighted the transition of tundra habitat to less suitable boreal forest, competition from northward-moving red foxes and declines in traditional prey.

The study also notes how complex interrelationships between vulnerable species could affect populations in a domino-like fashion. 'Because polar bears and ringed seals are expected to decline due to climate change,' the report states, the Arctic fox's 'coastal populations are likely to face reductions in alternative food sources such as ringed seal pups and the remains of polar bear prey.'

The five other species cited in the ICUN report are the staghorn coral of the world's southern seas, Antarctica's emperor penguins, southern Africa's quiver tree, the tropical clown fish and Australia's koala.

Image source here.