Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Imacts of warming on Hawaiian environment: new report

It's not news that Hawai'i has more threatened and endangered species than any place as small as we are, but we're getting some new global publicity for it.

A new initiative calls the Islands one of the 10 places in the country that needs critically to be protected in the ongoing changing climate.

The Endangered Species Coalition and its partners have issued a new report: “It's Getting Hot Out There: The 10 Places to Save for Endangered Species in a Warming World.”

“The Hawaiian Islands are ground zero for climate change,” said Marjorie Ziegler, executive director of the Conservation Council for Hawai‘i.

The report says this about the global warming threats for Hawaiian species:

“Warming temperatures from global climate change assault the ecosystem on multiple fronts. First, as the sea levels rise with the increased melting of the arctic, low-elevation atolls will be inundated.

“Second, as oceans become more acidic, corals will bleach and die off more quickly, which will reduce sand production for coastal beach ecosystems and healthy reef ecosystems essential for fish and seabirds.

“Third, as temperatures rise, introduced mosquitoes carrying avian malaria and avian pox will breed at higher elevations, putting bird populations at increased risk of extinction. Because mosquitoes survive at specific temperature ranges, the cooler temperatures of the higher elevations have thus far protected some bird populations from the mosquitoes.”

It's not clear whether this is a ranked list, or just a compilation of the top 10, but here's now the Endangered Species Coalition set up the decem, using the language of a press release issued by the Conservation Council for Hawai'i.

1. The Arctic Sea Ice, home to the polar bear, Pacific walrus and at least 6 species of seal.
2. Shallow Water Coral Reefs, home to the critically endangered elkhorn and staghorn coral.
3. The Hawaiian Islands, home to more than a dozen imperiled birds, and 319 threatened and endangered plants.
4. Southwest Deserts, home to numerous imperiled plants, fish, and mammals.
5. The San Francisco Bay-Delta, home to the imperiled Pacific salmon, Swainson’s hawk, tiger salamander and Delta smelt.
6. California Sierra Mountains, home to 30 native species of amphibian, including the Yellow-legged frog.
7. The Snake River Basin, home to four imperiled runs of salmon and steelhead.
8. Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, home to the imperiled Whitebark pine, an important food source for animals, including the threatened Grizzly bear.
9. The Gulf Coast’s flatlands and wetlands, home to the Piping and Snowy plovers, Mississippi sandhill crane, and numerous species of sea turtles.
10. The Greater Everglades, home to 67 threatened and endangered species, including the manatee and the red cockcaded woodpecker.

© Jan TenBruggencate 2011

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