It is really alarming to know that 50% of the species that inhabit the Earth may become in danger of extinction if climate change is not stopped in time. Once the so-called ‘point of no return’ has been reached, the animals affected by climate change will continue to increase year after year, reaching extinction processes faster than those that have been happening in recent decades. Beyond the melting of the poles, the risk that the consequences of climate change (current and future) poses for the survival of all living beings puts the habitat and natural resources of any region of the planet at a crossroads.
We begin by commenting on the melting of the North Pole and the loss of the polar bears. The current melting of the North Pole is one of the most direct consequences of climate change . When melting due to the high temperatures of global warming, polar bears ( Ursus maritimus ) fail to catch their prey, suffering severe periods of famine and dying on many occasions.
For this reason, polar bears are one of the animals that are in danger of extinction most affected by climate change , according to the ‘Red List of Threatened Species’ of the IUCN ( International Union for Conservation of Nature ). At present, there are only 22,000-31,000 specimens of this species left, grouped into a total of 19 subpopulations, 3 of which are in serious decline due to the high risk of loss of individuals to which they are due to climate change.
One of the most iconic cats in the mountains of Central Asia, the snow leopard ( Panthera uncia ) , is in serious danger of extinction due to the impacts that climate change causes on its natural habitat. The snow leopard population already has a 20% decline in the last 20 years, and, according to the WWF ( World Wildlife Fund ), climate change will continue to accelerate the rate of loss of these predators, as they are seen forced to survive in conditions of altered temperature and a very limited availability of prey.
The platypus ( Ornithorhynchus anatinus ) , an emblem of Australian fauna , is on its way to extinction due to the risks of loss of its natural habitat caused by climate change. This strange duck-billed and beaver-tailed monotreme is suffering a drastic population reduction due to the current extreme weather conditions , which are seriously endangering their lives.
Various international environmental organizations agree on the need to promote the protection of platypus in order to prevent their disappearance.
The crisis in the survival of many pollinators , including bees, is a direct consequence of climatic changes. Currently, the impact of climate change on the risk of extinction of these insects is extreme, putting the probability of their survival in the coming decades at a crossroads. As stated by different research groups, ‘bees are going extinct at rates equivalent to those of the mass extinctions that have already taken place on Earth, so that, if this loss of biodiversity continues at such a rate, many species of bees could be gone forever in a few decades. ‘
This data is very alarming, since bees are responsible for the pollination of millions of plant species, without which the planet’s natural habitats would be seriously affected.
Other animals in danger of extinction due to climate change
The list of species in danger of extinction as a consequence of the environmental risks derived from climate change includes animals of all fauna groups. In the following list we collect many of them:
- Blue whale
- North American Puma
- South china tiger
- Bengal tiger
- Multicolored tamarin
- American pike
- Panda bear
- Asian elephant
- African elephant
- African wild dog
- River dolphin
- Monk seal
- Ringed seal
- Iberian Desman
- Emperor penguin
- Imperial parrot
- Hummingbirds (various species)
- Cerrojillo flycatcher
- Monterita de Cochabamba
- Sharks (various species)
- Sea turtles (various species)
- Tree frog
- Temporaria frog
- Common toad
- Coral reef polyps
- Mediterranean butterflies
- Monarch butterflies
- Bumblebees (various species)
How climate change affects the extinction of animals
Climate change is responsible for many animal species living on the edge. Beyond the increase in temperatures due to global warming , there are various consequences of climate change that affect the extinction of animals, either directly or indirectly. These consequences include:
- The lack of water caused by long-term and / or multi-year droughts, which tends to prolong the destabilization of animal populations even years after the end of the drought.
- Changes in the dynamics of mating, migrations and shelter due to climate change lags, thus causing the alteration of the natural rhythms and cycles of behavior of the animals.
- Alterations in trophic chains directly related to seasonal climatic changes. That is to say, there are lags when at a certain time of the year the species of organisms (invertebrates and vertebrates) that used to do not proliferate, which serve as food for other higher animals, according to the trophic chains.
- Other extreme meteorological phenomena such as snowfall, fires, tsunamis and the melting of the poles kill the native animals, which constitute the fauna richness of each region, affecting in the same way interspecific animal relationships (between different species).
- In addition, due to the consequences of climate change, animals are threatened by new risks , such as the approach of human populations, the existence of new predators, movements by invasive species and even the appearance of diseases that increase the risk of extinction.