heard a lot about
the climate change talks that
were held late last year in
Copenhagen. In preparation
for that meeting, a group of
Since it’s clear that climate change has begun, what will this mean for Pennsylvania’s plants and animals? Will they be able to survive as climate change intensifies? It depends.
For some species it won’t be a big deal. Those that can live in a wide range of
There will be other species that can’t live under these
new conditions and will begin moving to more favorable
climates in the north and at higher elevations.
The third possible outcome is the most unpleasant –
extinction. There are species with specific habitat
requirements and limited mobility that aren’t likely to
fare well as the climate
changes. We don’t know
yet which species will be
Since there seems to be little doubt that climate change
has begun, have we seen any changes in animal and
plant populations yet? We sure have.
Since climate change is most pronounced in the polar
regions, that’s where the most dramatic changes are
occurring. The Brant goose, a common bird found along
the Pacific coast of North America, historically summered
in Alaska and wintered in Mexico, but that’s changing.
Warmer air and sea surface temperatures have reduced
winter ice cover, thereby making eel grass, which is their
primary food source, available year-round. As a result,
one out of every three Brant
geese no longer migrates and
lives year round in Alaska.
There’s also evidence of
climate change closer to
home. The Audubon Society has looked at bird distribution in the U.S. over the last 40 years
These are just a few early indicators of the major
impacts climate change will have on our species,
ecosystems, and habitats. That’s why most state
If you have a climate change topic you would like us to cover in a future issue of Wild! Notes, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.