Climate change, the age old topic of debate, returns. Well, it’s real and it’s happening. And even more telling is the effect the steady rise in temperature has had on some of our fondest wildlife species.
Ice caps are melting and the world is becoming increasingly hotter. It’s no surprise then to learn who struggles and who perseveres. But do we really want to see the extinction of species like the beloved emperor penguin and the cuddly polar bear in the coming years?
The gallery below features a variety of winners and losers facing the hot seat. How will these creatures stand against changing conditions?
— Kayla Newcomer, exclusive to Global Animal
LOSER: From shorter winters increasing the numbers of moose parasites like winter ticks, to warmer winters exposing these cold-weather animals to potentially fatal heat stress, the majestic moose doesn’t seem to be weathering the weather.
LOSER: With less floating ice, Pacific Walrus are gathering on Arctic coast land in larger groups than ever. This kind of togetherness isn’t good for the already-threatened species, as it could increase danger from stampedes and raise the possibility of disease outbreak.
TIE: Tropical plants in the Andes are moving upslope in an effort to get to the cooler temperatures in which they thrive. Some tree species are shifting as much as 12 vertical feet, but they need to go farther to reach a place with stable temperatures. The schefflera is one plant that may survive.
TIE: Melting sea ice could be devastating for the Emperor population, since it's about the only place they breed and raise their young. Food supply is low too. The Adélie penguin, however, is responding well to climate change due to their preference for ice-free breeding land.
WINNER: The Asian tiger mosquito stands to benefit from warmer temps. He has expanded its range and breeding speed, thanks to warmer winters and more rainfall, among other things. By the end of the century, his range could expand to about 49 percent of the Northeast.
WINNER: Bark Beetles are making a meal out of climate change. In times of drought, the trees that could normally defend themselves are stressed, and stressed trees are typically what the beetles mostly feast on. Warmer winters also mean more surviving larvae and earlier springs that allow the bark beetle to extend its range.
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