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50 animals whose homes are threatened by climate change

  • 50 animals whose homes are threatened by climate change

    As more people around the world face the immediate consequences of climate change in real-time, scientists continue to study and update the far-ranging impacts of a heating world not only on humans but also on thousands of other species in the days to come. The overwhelming majority of climate scientists agree that a warming climate threatens and is already impacting global biodiversity and support a push for real aid and legal protection for all species in peril.

    A 2019 study published in February 2020 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, one of the world’s most respected scientific journals, does just that. The researchers link data on species distributions around the world with carbon emissions scenarios.

    The authors of the new research, Cristian Román-Palacios and John J. Wiens used data from past surveys of these 538 species to predict how climate change would impact the ranges of these species. They calculated how temperatures would change in each species’ native habitat under several emissions scenarios, then determined whether each species’ population would survive in its current state, be forced to change habitat and disperse, or go extinct.

    In the case of extinction, the species is projected to disappear completely. In cases of dispersal, some species may survive by changing their habitats and moving to more favorable conditions and/or shifting their behaviors to navigate changes to their habitat.

    In this story, Stacker highlights 50 animal species examined in this study, all of which will either face extinction or dispersal in the next 50 years under the moderate emissions scenario RCP 4.5, as calculated using the climate model HadGM2. Many of the species included in this story are from the same regions (for example, moths of Madagascar, and birds of South America), as data for these species come from the same source survey papers. You’ll also notice that in some regions, other human impacts besides climate are already affecting some species.

    The study serves as a canary in a coal mine, with its remarkable and powerful new research providing a window into a possible future that is distinctly quieter than the world we live in today. There is still time to change some of these numbers and projections—and an increasing number of scientists, politicians, corporations, and everyday people is working to do just that.

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  • Speckled hummingbird

    - Scientific name: Adelomyia melanogenys
    - Geographic region: South America
    - Status under RCP 4.5: Extinction

    The speckled hummingbird lives only in a very narrow strip of forested areas of the Andes along the western coast of South America, from approximately Venezuela in the north to Bolivia in the south. Its “speckles” can be hard to see, but its black cheek patch with white stripe behind its eye makes it easier to identify. It lives in wet, humid forests and builds nests that hang from beneath fern leaves.

  • Long-tailed sylph

    - Scientific name: Aglaiocercus kingi
    - Geographic region: South America
    - Status under RCP 4.5: Extinction

    The long-tailed sylph is a striking hummingbird found only the mountains of the Andes in South America, also in a very narrow strip on the western part of the continent, from approximately Venezuela to Bolivia. The male’s exceptionally long tail, short beak, and glittering green crown and throat help distinguish it from the violet-tailed sylph, found in parts of the same range. Females are less colorful and have much shorter tails. Long-tailed sylphs look for food throughout all elevations in the mountain forests and build nests of moss that hang like balls from the branches above.

  • Dor beetle

    - Scientific name: Anoplotrupes stercorosus
    - Geographic region: Europe
    - Status under RCP 4.5: Extinction

    The dor beetle is an earth-boring dung beetle found throughout Europe. The beetles live in broadleaf forests such as beech forests and humid, mixed-species forests, as well as evergreen forests. Adult beetles are a metallic bluish-black and are 12-20 millimeters, which is small relative to other common dung beetles. Dor beetles feed on animal feces, fungi, and tree sap; and they burrow into the earth to lay their eggs at the end of a small tunnel where they store feces to feed the larvae which will hatch from the eggs. Adults are active in summer, lay their eggs in fall to overwinter, then the pupae emerge in spring.

  • Ant (A. picea)

    - Scientific name: Aphaenogaster picea
    - Geographic region: North America
    - Status under RCP 4.5: Extinction

    Aphaenogaster picea, also known as pitch-black collared ants, are found in higher elevation mountain or rocky areas of eastern North America. Workers have wider heads and distinct habitats compared to related species. These ants nest in rotting wood, in soil, and beneath bark. The genus Aphaenogaster is common in North America but in the PNAS study, A. picea, at least, is projected to go extinct in these habitats under a moderate emissions scenario.

  • Chestnut-tipped toucanet

    - Scientific name: Aulacorhynchus derbianus
    - Geographic region: South America
    - Status under RCP 4.5: Extinction

    The chestnut-tipped toucanet lives in a very narrow band of lower mountainous forests in the Andes and Guianan highlands, along a portion of western South America. It is green with a black bill and a red tail tip. Its call is similar but distinctive from other toucanets, with longer and softer notes. The chestnut-tipped toucanet feeds on fruits in the forest canopy, and is typically on its own or in pairs, and occasionally in small groups. So far, no nests have been observed so nesting behavior remains unknown.

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  • Common carder-bee

    - Scientific name: Bombus pascuorum
    - Geographic region: Europe
    - Status under RCP 4.5: Extinction

    The common carder-bee is found across much of Europe with higher numbers in the United Kingdom. It’s a brown bumblebee, and two other species in its genus, Bombus, are in steep decline. It is hard to identify a carder-bee from the other Bombus species, unless the black patches on the side of its body are well developed. Carder-bees are common in gardens and in many other habitats. They make nests in grasslands, leaf litter, and beneath hedges, always above ground. Carder bees build their nests by gathering—or “carding”—materials, including moss and dry grass, to cover their nests. Nests are small for bumblebees and have fewer workers than other bumblebee species.

  • Bumblebee (B. sichelii)

    - Scientific name: Bombus sichelii
    - Geographic region: Europe
    - Status under RCP 4.5: Extinction

    Bumblebees of the species Bombus sichelli are uncommon and found only in a few parts of Europe. They are identified by their distinctive white-band.

  • Knapweed carder-bee

    - Scientific name: Bombus sylvarum
    - Geographic region: Europe
    - Status under RCP 4.5: Extinction

    The knapweed, or shrill, carder-bee is among the rarest bumblebees in the United Kingdom, though it can also be found across parts of Europe. It is a distinctive bumblebee with pale-grey yellowish coloring and a reddish-orange tail. It prefers particular types of flowers for their pollen and nectar. These bees build nests on or just beneath the ground in thick grass. The hives typically have a small number of workers relative to other species of bumblebees.

  • Moth (C. subexpressa)

    - Scientific name: Calletaera subexpressa
    - Geographic region: Asia
    - Status under RCP 4.5: Extinction

    Moths of the species Calletaera subespressa are found only in certain parts of Southeast Asia. These moths are small with a grey band on both wings. They are rare, and are mostly found in the lower elevation mountain forests, but may occasionally be seen at higher elevations.

  • Chameleon (C. guillaumeti)

    - Scientific name: Calumma cf. guillaumeti
    - Geographic region: Madagascar
    - Status under RCP 4.5: Range shift and dispersal

    The chameleon Calumma guillaumeti is found only in a small area in Madagascar. Besides climate change, it is vulnerable to logging and agricultural practices.

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