BENH LIEU SONG, FLICKR While scientists have long-known that climate change threatens wildlife, the magnitude of those effects have been underreported, according to a study published Monday (February 13) in Nature Climate Change.
International researchers reviewed 130 studies published between 1990 and 2015 that documented the effects of climate change on various species. Their analysis revealed that, among the animals listed as threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), 47 percent of 873 terrestrial mammals and 23 percent of 1272 bird species were negatively affected by climate change. While the degree of harm to each species varied, they found that elephants, marsupials, primates, waterfowl, and birds living at high altitudes were hit the hardest. Many of these animals have specialized diets or live in habitats where the effects of global warming are difficult to escape.
Prior estimates only flagged around 7 percent of mammals and 4 percent of birds on IUCN’s list as threatened by climate change. “We are massively underreporting what is going on,” Watson told the Huffington Post. “This is a bad story for birds and mammals, but it probably means that we are really, really getting it wrong for a lot of other species.”