Home » Impacts To Species and Habitats
Climate Change and Wildlife Health: Direct and Indirect Effects highlights how awareness has been growing in recent years about zoonotic diseases — that is, diseases that are transmissible between animals and humans, such as Lyme disease and West Nile virus — due to climate change. The rise of such diseases results from closer relationships among wildlife, domestic animals, and people, allowing more contact with diseased animals, organisms that carry and transmit a disease from one animal to another (vectors), and people.
The Coastal Flood Exposure Mapper supports users undertaking a community-based approach to assessing coastal hazard risks and vulnerabilities by providing maps that show people, places, and natural resources exposed to coastal flooding. This spatial visualization tool shows maps of people, places, and natural resources exposed to coastal flood hazards including FEMA flood zones, shallow coastal flooding, sea level rise, storm surge.
The warmer air and ocean surface temperatures brought on by climate change impact corals and alter coral reef communities by prompting coral bleaching events and altering ocean chemistry. These impacts affect corals and the many organisms that use coral reefs as habitat. Reef degradation also reduces the ability of these systems to respond to change and mitigate storm surge events – a valuable ecosystem service.
This online, self-guided resource shows spatial analysts how to incorporate green infrastructure into their GIS work to prioritize areas that will help reduce hazard and climate impacts.
Rising temperatures, changing precipitation patterns and shifts in vegetation communities are changing the effective range and distribution of many native and agricultural species. These habitat shifts impact species and ecosystems.
Climate is an important environmental influence on ecosystems. Warming is likely to force some species to migrate to higher latitudes or higher elevations where temperatures are more conducive to their survival. Similarly, as sea level rises, saltwater intrusion into a freshwater system may force some key species to relocate or die, thus removing predators or prey that were critical in the existing food chain. Negative impacts to species and habitats have already been observed.
Climate change has already been linked to changes in habitats and ecosystems, including species composition, weather patterns and the length of the seasons. As average global temperature continues to warm, these changes will continue. Plans to enhance resilience now can help reduce vulnerabilities and improve the adaptive capacity of habitats and ecosystems.
Grasslands cover approximately 400 million acres of the contiguous United States.Despite their extensive distribution, grasslands and the neighboring deserts that make up more arid regions are sensitive ecosystems that can be vulnerable to extreme changes in temperature and shifts in precipitation. Land trusts are working to manage grasslands for climate change to protect the biodiversity, habitats, and ecosystem services these landscapes provide.
Due to climate change rising air temperatures are already warming freshwater habitats. Some lakes and streams have already experienced water loss due to summer droughts. These, and other changes, are likely to continue and accelerate in the coming decades, and impact water quality and quantity, with negative implications for freshwater ecosystems and the species that rely on these vulnerable habitats. Despite these challenges, land trusts are well positioned to manage rivers, lakes and other freshwater habitats for the multiple benefits – both ecological and economic – they provide.
Climate change has already been linked to changes in wildlife distribution, reproduction and behavior. Enhancing connectivity and “conserving the stage” are critical conservation objectives that can help species adapt to changing conditions.
Wildlife and ecosystems are already being impacted by climate change, and these impacts are projected to increase.
The National Wildlife Federation advocates: (1) implementing smart and effective policies that reduce carbon and other greenhouse gas pollution driving climate change and endangering the health of communities and wildlife; (2) investing in clean, wildlife-friendly renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power; and (3) safeguarding wildlife and wildlife habitat by designing and carrying out Climate Smart Conservation strategies to reduce the level of negative climate change impacts and enhance the ability of wildlife and wildlife habitats to survive the changing climate.
Land trusts can engage in all of these efforts, but are particularly well-suited to implement "climate smart conservation" on the lands they steward. Read more in NWF's Wildlife Legacy: Climate Change and the Next Generation of Wildlife.
Land trusts are engaging in strategic conservation planning to build resilience and minimize vulnerabilities to impacts of climate change in different ways. Learn more.