Even ‘safe’ species at risk from climate change

Five years of work by 100 scientists has shown that climate change threatens even ‘safe’ – not endangered – species.

Of the species studied, 83% of the birds, 66% of the amphibians and 70% of the corals which were found to be highly vulnerable to climate change are not currently considered endangered or in need of conservation efforts. The study took in the work of other scientists over the last half decade, looking for characteristics that might make each species more or less vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Birds, amphibians and corals are the most-studied groups, living in the three main ‘biomes’ of life (land, freshwater and ocean). This analysis focused on: 9,856 types of bird, 6,204 types of amphibian and 797 types of reef corals.

One of the main messages is that conservation as it is now misses out all these species that are, unexpectedly, very vulnerable to the changes wrought by global warming. The study will help identify these species, but also helps scientists better understand ‘weak points’, characteristics that make animals more or less sensitive to climate change.