|Wildlife Populations Affected by Global Warming|
Most researchers agree that even small changes in temperature are enough to send hundreds if not thousands of already struggling species into extinction unless we can stem the tide of global warming.
And time may be of the essence: A 2003 study published in the journal Nature concluded that 80 percent of some 1,500 wildlife species sampled are already showing signs of stress from climate change.
The key impact of global warming on wildlife is habitat displacement, whereby ecosystems that animals have spent millions of years adapting to shift quickly.
Ice giving way to water in polar bear habitat is just one example of this. Another, according to The Washington Post, is the possibility that warmer spring temperatures could dry up critical breeding habitat for waterfowl in the prairie pothole region, a stretch of land between northern Iowa and central Alberta.
A recent report by the Pew Center for Global Climate Change suggests creating "transitional habitats" or "corridors" that help migrating species by linking natural areas that are otherwise separated by human settlement.
And some hibernating animals are ending their slumbers earlier each year, perhaps due to warmer spring temperatures. To make matters worse, recent research contradicts the long-held hypothesis that different species coexisting in a particular ecosystem respond to global warming as a single entity.
Instead, different species sharing like habitat are responding in dissimilar ways, tearing apart ecological communities millennia in the making.
Similarly, a northward migration of caterpillars in the Netherlands has eroded some forests there.
The group fears that unless we take decisive steps to reverse global warming, more and more species will join the list of wildlife populations pushed to the brink of extinction by a changing climate.
Defenders of Wildlife www.defenders.org.
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