Effect on animals


Shifting Habitats

The American pika, a small rodent that lives in California Mountains, cannot tolerate temperatures much higher than 80 degrees. As temperatures have risen, some pica populations have moved more than 1,300 feet further up the slopes to find a cooler home.

Predators Decline as Prey Declines

On Isle Royale, Mich ., higher temperatures mean that one species of tick is growing more numerous and becoming more troublesome for the island’s moose. As the population of moose has declined, so has the population of wolves, which prey on the moose for food.

Shifting Migration Patterns

Many birds have begun making their annual migrations earlier. Some British species have shifted by two to three weeks over the past 30 years. That can be a problem if the bird’s main food source doesn’t also shift in timing so it is available when the bird needs to eat.

Entire Ecosystem Changes

In the northern Bering sea, near Alaska, warmer waters are causing an entire ecosystem shift. Native animals, such as walruses and gray whales, are finding less of the prey animals they relay on. At the same time, fish are moving in from less frigid areas.

Research on wood frogs in England seems to show that they may be able to evolve and adapt to rising temperatures. That is good news, but scientists say that many animals will not be able to evolve in the same way.

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Md.

Rising Water levels threaten to turn of this enormous swamp, which shelters baby fish and blue crabs along with migrating birds into open water by 2030. A crucial habiat on the Eastern Shore could vanish.

Catoctin Mountain, Frederic County

The brook trout that live in mountain streams here cannot tolerate water much hotter than 68 degrees. As temperature rise, the fish in central Maryland could be gone in a century.

Monteverde Cloud Forest, Costa Rica
 Animals living in this forest depend on moisture from near-constant clouds of mist and fog. Climate changes seem to be reducing this moisture. Two amphibian Species have not been seen since 1980s and are presumed extinct.

South Pacific Ocean

Warm waters have been become too hot for coral reef in some places, leading to so-called “bleachings” in which large amounts of coral die. During 1998, warm temperature killed off about 16 percent of all the world’s coral.

Beaufort and Chukchi seas, of Alaska

 Walrus mothers in this area typically leave their young on the sea while they dive down to find food on bottom. But now, sea ice is melting more rapidly than before, which can leave walrus calves floating helplessly in open water.