Climate change has transformed and degraded habitats and ecosystems — places where animals have spent millions of years adapting — and now, plant and animal species are disappearing faster than at any time in recorded historyEmaciated grizzly bears are starving as the salmon population withers, and a warming Arctic is to blame for a die-off of puffins.


There are currently 8.7 million species (insects, birds, reptiles and  over 2.16 million animals) in the world estimatesthe World Animal Foundation. A new study evaluating the conservation status of 71,000 animal species has shown that 48% of species are decreasing.


Extinctions skyrocketed world wide with the onset of the Industrial Revolution. Habitat destruction, especially in the tropics, is the major driver. But a confluence of human activities, ranging from climate change to pollution, are combining to drive animal declines. According to a UN report on biodiversity, one million animals and plants face extinction due to climate change.


An October 2023 article in the Washington Post quoted a study saying that more than 40% of frogs, salamanders and other amphibians are at risk of vanishing due to climate change.


In 2019, animals and plants in the U.S. faced a new and local challenge. Although the Endangered Species Act (passed in 1973) had been credited with saving more than 99% of species listed on it, the Trump administration finalized sweeping rollbacks that weakened protections dramatically. In response, 17 state attorneys general sueda bill was filed in the House to revoke the rollbacks, and activists delivered more than 500,000 petition signatures supporting the Endangered Species Act. The Trump Administration decided to add insult to injury and, on October 2019, passed an executive order to disband two federal advisory boards focused on protecting marine life and battling invasive species.


 In June 2021, under the Biden administration, plans changed with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service moving to undo much of the Trump administration’s work that altered the ways habitats of plants and animals on the verge of extinction are kept from total collapse. The Endangered Species Act of 2023 provides a program for the conservation of threatened and endangered plants, animals, and their habitats.


Scientists agree: Earth is in the midst of its sixth great extinction. They agree that climate and deforestation are major drivers of biodiversity loss: The U.N. estimates that the world lost 14 million square kilometers (5.4 million square miles) of forest over the past three centuries. Rainforests are home to two-thirds of all species on Earth and they are making way for cattle, soy, corn, sugarcane and mining. Together, the combination of habitat loss and warming climate are rapidly shrinking and shifting ranges, fragmenting lands available for wildlife, and forcing populations to either climb to higher altitudes or move toward the poles to escape the heat. While some animals can relocate, others are trapped within isolated, contracting scraps of wildland.

Percentage of species per taxonomic group that have decreasing, stable, increasing or unknown/unassessed (NA) population trends. Each group is represented by a silhouette from left to right; mammals (N = 5,969), birds (N = 11,162), amphibians (N = 7,316), reptiles (N = 10,150), fishes (N = 24,356) and insects (N = 12,161). Data sourced from the IUCN Red List. Image courtesy of Finn et al. (2023) (CC BY 4.0).


Coral reefs suffer fourth global bleaching event, NOAA says

By Gloria Dickie and Alison Withers 04/16/24
The planet is currently experiencing its fourth global coral bleaching event on record, affecting most of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). It is the second mass bleaching in the past decade, NOAA scientists said in…
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A Collapse of the Amazon Could Be Coming ‘Faster Than We Thought’

By Manuela Andreoni 02/14/24
Up to half of the Amazon rainforest could transform into grasslands or weakened ecosystems in the coming decades, a new study found, as climate change, deforestation and severe droughts like the one the region is…
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Coral bleaching is now so extreme, scientists had to expand their scale for it

By Amudalat Ajasa 02/14/24
For more than a decade, marine experts have relied on an alert scale from the National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration to signal how much stress ocean heat is putting on corals and what risk there is…
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Where Will the Whales Be? Ask the Climate Model

By Delger Erdenesanaa 12/05/23
The opening of California’s commercial crab season, which normally starts in November, is delayed once again to protect humpback whales foraging for krill and anchovies along the coast.
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Climate change is driving many amphibians toward extinction

By Dino Grandoni 10/04/23
You know the story: Slowly turn up the heat on a frog in a pot of water, and the frog won’t hop out. Oblivious to the imperceptible increase in heat, it will stay put until…
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Where Walruses Go When Sea Ice Is Gone

By Carolyn Kormann 11/21/22
n 2018, in the Siberian Arctic, the filmmakers Evgenia Arbugaeva and Maxim Arbugaev, who are sister and brother, arrived on a strange beach. “The sand was of dark colour, full of bones, and smelled terrible,”…
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Major New Zealand salmon producer shuts farms as warming waters cause mass die-offs

By Tess McClure 05/26/22
New Zealand’s biggest king salmon farmer says it is shutting some of its farms after warming seas prompted mass die-offs of fish, warning that it is a “canary in the coalmine” for climate change.
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These whales are on the brink. Now comes climate change — and wind power.

By Dino Grandoni 04/21/22
About 17 nautical miles south of Nantucket, a half-dozen New England Aquarium researchers scrambled across this vessel’s icy deck. Clutching binoculars, clipboards and cameras, they strained to catch a glimpse and scribble notes about a…
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California conservationists and farmers unite to protect salmon

By Daniel Trotta and Nathan Frandino 02/10/22
In an experiment a decade in the making, biologists are releasing hatchery salmon onto flooded Northern California rice fields, seeking to replenish endangered fish species while simultaneously benefiting the farmers' business model.
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The Most Important Global Meeting You’ve Probably Never Heard Of Is Now

By Catrin Einhorn 10/14/21
As 20,000 government leaders, journalists, activists and celebrities from around the world prepare to descend on Glasgow for a crucial climate summit starting late this month, another high-level international environmental meeting got started this week.…
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Protected Too Late: U.S. Officials Report More Than 20 Extinctions

By Catrin Einhorn 10/04/21
The ivory-billed woodpecker, which birders have been seeking in the bayous of Arkansas, is gone forever, according to federal officials. So is the Bachman’s warbler, a yellow-breasted songbird that once migrated between the Southeastern United…
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Biodiversity at Risk

A growing body of evidence has sounded the alarm that the biodiversity that supports and sustains life on Earth is at risk. Habitat destruction, resource exploitation, and climate change are among the many stressors that…

Manage Wildlife for Climate Change Resilience

Altered climate conditions have already been linked to changes in wildlife distribution, reproduction and behavior. As temperatures continue to warm and precipitation patterns shift, these fluctuations will continue. Enhancing connectivity and “conserving the stage” are…

Climate Change

Climate change is quickly becoming the biggest threat to the long-term survival of America’s wildlife. No longer is climate change something only facing future generations—changes to our climate are being documented all across the planet…

Combating Climate Change

Climate change is among the greatest threats to biodiversity on our planet. It is already having devastating effects on both human and natural communities. Extreme weather events like heat waves, intense storms and prolonged droughts…

The projected timing of abrupt ecological disruption from climate change

As anthropogenic climate change continues the risks to biodiversity will increase over time, with future projections indicating that a potentially catastrophic loss of global biodiversity is on the horizon1–3. However, our understanding of when and…

Global assessment Experts

Please scroll down to view the list of experts

What is mass extinction and are we facing a sixth one?

Human activity is killing nature at an unprecedented rate. We are now experiencing the consequences in the form of a possible sixth mass extinction.

Ecosystems, Biodiversity, and Ecosystem Services

Impacts of climate change on ecosystems reduce their ability to improve water quality and regulate water flows. Rapid changes to ecosystems may cause the displacement or loss of many species. Timing of critical biological events…


Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO) is the flagship publication of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). It is a periodic report that summarizes the latest data on the status and trends of biodiversity and draws conclusions…

Biological annihilation via the ongoing sixth mass extinction signaled by vertebrate population losses and declines

The strong focus on species extinctions, a critical aspect of the contemporary pulse of biological extinction, leads to a common misimpression that Earth’s biota is not immediately threa

Living Planet Report 2020

Bending the curve of biodiversity loss.

Defenders of Wildlife

Defenders works on the ground, in the courts, and on Capitol Hill to protect and restore imperiled wildlife across North America and around the world. Together, we can ensure a future for the wildlife and…

National Wildlife Federation

The National Wildlife Federation, America's largest and most trusted conservation organization, works across the country to unite Americans from all walks of life in giving wildlife a voice. We've been on the front lines for…

Center for Biological Diversity

The Center for Biological Diversity (Center), based in Tucson, Arizona, is a nonprofit membership organization with approximately 1.1 million members and online activists, known for its work protecting endangered species through legal action, scientific petitions,…


Potential Consequence of Plant Extinction in the United States on the Current and Future Availability of Prescription Drug

By Norman R. Farnsworth And Djaja Doel Soejarto   09/23/21  
All drugs used by humans are derived by synthesis, from inorganic chemicals, or from living organisms. Those obtained from living organisms are derived from plants, microorganisms, or animals. This paper addresses only drugs obtained from…
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Why Are Some Plants Rare?

Some plants are naturally rare, and the cause may be a mystery. These rare plants are not necessarily in danger of extinction. If their habitat is secure and they continue to reproduce in the wild,…
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Almost 600 plants have already gone extinct

New study from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Stockholm University looks at the plants that have been wiped from the planet in the last 250 years
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Philanthropists pledge $5 billion to save threatened species

By Steven Mufson   09/22/21  
The Wyss Foundation and eight other philanthropic organizations pledged Wednesday to give $5 billion by 2030 to protect biodiversity around the planet, the largest-ever private gift for conservation.
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4 ways the climate crisis is causing animals to ‘shapeshift’

By Tara Yarlagadda   09/16/21  
The climate crisis is taking an enormous toll not only on our species but also on our animal friends. Scientific evidence shows animals have adapted to the stressors of the climate crisis in various ways,…
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Nearly 30% of tree species in the wild are threatened with extinction, new report says

By Anmar Frangoul   09/01/21  
Almost 30% of tree species in the wild are now at risk of extinction, with a wide range of factors responsible for their decline, according to analysis released Wednesday.Published by Botanic Gardens Conservation International, the…
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Up to half of world’s wild tree species could be at risk of extinction

By Jonathan Watts   09/01/21  
Between a third and half of the world’s wild tree species are threatened with extinction, posing a risk of wider ecosystem collapse, the most comprehensive global stocktake to date warns. Forest clearance for farming is…
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Bees Are Being Killed in Greater Numbers by Pesticide Cocktails

By Elizabeth Waddington   08/20/21  
Bees and other pollinators are essential to food production and the function of many ecological systems. The UN estimates that 75% of the world's crops that produce fruits and seeds for human consumption rely on…
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Emperor Penguin Populations Could Decline by 98% by 2100

By Amy Lupica   08/04/21  
Rapidly melting sea ice in the Arctic has notoriously decimated the habitats of the world’s beloved polar bears. Now, another polar species is staring down the barrel of extinction on the opposite side of the globe. 
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UN sets out Paris-style plan to cut extinction rate by factor of 10

By Patrick Greenfield   07/21/21  
Eliminating plastic pollution, reducing pesticide use by two-thirds, halving the rate of invasive species introduction and eliminating $500bn (£360bn) of harmful environmental government subsidies a year are among the targets in a new draft of…
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Florida’s Iconic Manatees Are in Trouble

By Olivia Rosane   06/11/21  
According to the most recent figures from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), 761 manatees have died so far this year.1 “This is more than double the amount of the total recorded deaths…
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On the Verge of Extinction, These Whales Are Also Shrinking

By Annie Roth   06/03/21  
North Atlantic right whales are struggling to survive, and it shows. Most of the 360 or so North Atlantic right whales alive today bear scars from entanglements in fishing gear and collisions with speeding ships…
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Iconic animals are under threat if we breach 1.5°C warming, warns WWF

By New Scientist and Press Association   06/02/21  
Wildlife ranging from bluebells and bumblebees to snow leopards and emperor penguins is under threat from climate change, according to a new report. Even the coffee plants that produce one of the world’s favourite brews…
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Prairie chickens are dying out on the Great Plains.

By Juliet Eilperin and Joshua Partlow   05/27/21  
The Biden administration called for new protections under the Endangered Species Act for an iconic bird of the Great Plains on Wednesday, a move with major consequences for the oil and gas industry.
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Angelina Jolie Shines Spotlight on Women Beekeepers

By Michael d'Estries   05/25/21  
Leave it to National Geographic to match Angelina Jolie with a delicate, but powerful supporting cast of honeybees. The actor and humanitarian, in partnership with photographer Dan Winters, was determined to create an image for…
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The Seafood Industry Needs a Net-Zero Commitment: No More Endangered Species Caught, Ever

By Caroline Tippett   05/21/21  
Seafood is one of the most globally traded food commodities, and demand for it continues to rise. As a result, levels of fishing in many areas of the world are becoming increasingly unsustainable, and the…
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What’s the big deal if bees are dying?

By Amanda Coulson-Drasner   05/19/21  
We are losing billions of bees every year to many complicated causes, including climate change, decreasing crop diversity and habitat loss. Why does it matter if bees are around?
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Global warming may change the sex of animal populations

By Mike Wehner   05/19/21  
Climate change is already devastating certain animal populations, both on the land and in the oceans, and it’s only going to get worse as time goes on if we can’t get our thirst for fossil…
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The 5 mass extinction events that shaped the history of Earth — and the 6th that’s happening now

By Scott Dutfield   05/18/21  
Scientists define a mass extinction as around three-quarters of all species dying out over a short geological time, which is anything less than 2.8 million years, according to The Conversation. Right now, humans find themselves…
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Global warming is threatening animal cognition

By Camilla Soravia   05/17/21  
Most animals need attention, memory, learning, and decision-making mechanisms to process environmental information and adjust their behaviour accordingly. All these mechanisms represent animal cognition; they can affect how quickly an animal reacts when facing a…
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Animal hybrids are becoming more common because of climate change

By Eric Henrikson   05/17/21  
Animal hybrids are rare in nature. Most species are incapable of breeding with other species, and when they do they often can’t reproduce. Think of the mule, a donkey/horse hybrid that’s been around for centuries.…
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Which animals will survive climate change?

By Alan Garcia-Elfring   05/13/21  
Climate change is exacerbating problems like habitat loss and temperatures swings that have already pushed many animal species to the brink. But can scientists predict which animals will be able to adapt and survive? Using…
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1 Million Animal And Plant Species Are At Risk Of Extinction, U.N. Report Says

By Nathan Rott and Bill Chappell   05/06/21  
Up to 1 million of the estimated 8 million plant and animal species on Earth are at risk of extinction — many of them within decades — according to scientists and researchers who produced a…
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Bizarre Marine Life Movement Might be Indicating Future Mass Extinction

By Charles Stephen   04/26/21  
Science has long acknowledged the wonder of Earth’s tropical waters. Perhaps this is because it offers the richest marine life diversity anywhere on our planet. These range from the fantastic coral reefs to the running…
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Global warming is causing a more pronounced dip in marine species richness around the equator

By Chhaya Chaudhary , Anthony J. Richardson , David S. Schoeman and Mark J. Costello   04/13/21  
The latitudinal gradient in species richness, with more species in the tropics and richness declining with latitude, is widely known and has been assumed to be stable over recent centuries. We analyzed data on 48,661…
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Marine life is fleeing the equator to cooler waters. History tells us this could trigger a mass extinction event

By Anthony Richardson , Chhaya Chaudhary , David Schoeman , Mark John Costello   04/08/21  
The tropical water at the equator is renowned for having the richest diversity of marine life on Earth, with vibrant coral reefs and large aggregations of tunas, sea turtles, manta rays and whale sharks. The…
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I thought I’d seen it all studying plastics. Then my team found 2,000 bags in a camel

By Marcus Eriksen   03/24/21  
Digging between the ribs of a dead camel buried in the sands of Dubai, I couldn’t believe what my colleagues and I found: a mass of plastic bags as big as a large suitcase. At…
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Butterflies are vanishing out West. Scientists say climate change is to blame.

By Dino Grandoni   03/05/21  
Hundreds of butterfly species across the American West are vanishing as the region becomes hotter, drier and more vulnerable to the effects of climate change, according to a study released Thursday.
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Arctic ice loss forces polar bears to use four times as much energy to survive – study

By Phoebe Weston   02/24/21  
Polar bears and narwhals are using up to four times as much energy to survive because of major ice loss in the Arctic, according to scientists. Once perfectly evolved for polar life, apex predators are…
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Flawed NOAA Proposal Too Weak to Help Endangered Right Whales

By Peter Baker & Katharine Deuel   02/23/21  
On the last day of 2020, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)—the agency responsible for protecting whales in U.S. waters—released a proposed regulation to protect right whales from entanglement in fishing gear, a leading…
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As Warming Oceans Bring Tough Times to California Crab Fishers, Scientists Say Diversifying is Key to Survival

By Liza Gross   02/01/21  
California’s Dungeness crab fishermen have had a rough year. Poor meat quality, endangered whales migrating too close to shore and price disputes with wholesalers kept crab pots on boats for nearly two months. The delays…
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Shark Populations Are Crashing, With a ‘Very Small Window’ to Avert Disaster

By Catrin Einhorn   01/27/21  
In just the last half-century, humans have caused a staggering, worldwide drop in the number of sharks and rays that swim the open oceans, scientists have found in the first global assessment of its kind,…
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‘I almost cracked’: 16-month artistic performance of mass extinction comes to a close

By Stephanie Eslake   01/25/21  
The Hobart artist Lucienne Rickard has spent five weeks drawing a large-scale pencil sketch of the critically endangered bird. Picking up her eraser, she tells her audience, “If we don’t do something soon, this is what will happen.”
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Covid-19 Kept Tourists Away. Why Did These Seabirds Miss Them?

By Cara Giaimo   01/22/21  
When tourists come to Stora Karlso, a limestone-ledged nature reserve off the coast of Sweden, they keep a respectful distance from the many seabirds that call the island home. Like most visitors to wild places,…
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Trump Opens Habitat of a Threatened Owl to Timber Harvesting

By Lisa Friedman and Catrin Einhorn   01/13/21  
The Trump administration on Wednesday removed more than 3 million acres of Pacific Northwest land from the protected habitat of the northern spotted owl, 15 times the amount it had previously proposed opening to the…
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Top scientists warn of ‘ghastly future of mass extinction’ and climate disruption

By Phoebe Weston   01/13/21  
The planet is facing a “ghastly future of mass extinction, declining health and climate-disruption upheavals” that threaten human survival because of ignorance and inaction, according to an international group of scientists, who warn people still…
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Mysterious Dolphin Deaths Linked To Climate Change In New Study

By Sara Tabin   01/02/21  
In 2007, scientists studying dolphins in the Gippsland Lakes of South Eastern Australia noticed something alarming. Dead dolphins were washing up on shore, covered in skin lesions. Some of them looked like they had received…
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Monarch butterflies denied endangered species listing despite shocking decline

By Farah Eltohamy   12/15/20  
Migratory western monarch butterflies have reached a record low this year, putting them at the brink of extinction, according to the latest survey of the insects. The annual autumn count, though not finalized, stands at…
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Noise and Light Pollution From Humans Alter Bird Reproduction

By Rachel Henry   12/03/20  
Human-produced noise and light pollution are troublesome to our avian neighbors, according to new research from a team at California Polytechnic State University, published November 11 in Nature. Using NASA satellite data, the researchers got…
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Arctic Animals’ Movement Patterns are Shifting in Different Ways as the Climate Changes

By Sofie Bates   11/30/20  
For animals in the Arctic, life is a balancing act. Seasonal cues, such as warmer spring temperatures or cooler temperatures in the fall, tell animals when to migrate, when to mate, and when and where…
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Bears, whales and wolverines: the species imperiled by Trump’s war on the environment

By Paola Rosa-Aquino   10/20/20  
The prognosis for biodiversity on Earth is grim. According to a sobering report released by the United Nations last year, 1 million land and marine species across the globe are threatened with extinction – more…
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These endangered woodpecker families were recovering. Then Hurricane Laura flattened their homes

By David Mitchell   10/19/20  
When Hurricane Laura's wind and storm surge displaced thousands of people from their homes two months ago, the Category 4 storm also devastated the habitat of the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker -- and the full impact…
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Micro-climates may help save plant species as global temperatures rise

By Angela Hutti   10/15/20  
Missouri Botanical Garden researchers are using the diverse landscape at Washington University’s Tyson Research Center in Eureka, Missouri to find what kind of landscapes can buffer plants against climate change.
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Climate Change Is Turning the Heat Up Higher at Night Time

By Jonathan Tirone   10/01/20  
Nights are warming at a faster rate than daytime temperatures across vast swathes of the globe, potentially impacting weather patterns and making it more difficult for life to adapt to climate change.
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15 Animals That Live in the Taiga

By Russell McLendon   09/30/20  
Boreal forests are often excellent habitats for bears. They support brown bears across both Eurasia and North America, as well as Asiatic black bears and North American black bears in their respective continents.
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Nebraska’s wildlife already feeling the heat from climate change

By Carlee koehler   09/28/20  
As a graduate student in California, Jamilynn Poletto was part of a fish ambulance service of sorts. Hotter weather from climate change increased water evaporation, turning flowing streams into shallow ponds. Suddenly, stranded sturgeon were…
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Wildlife Populations Plummet by 68% in the Last 50 Years

By Mary Jo DiLonardo   09/11/20  
Human activity has wiped out about two-thirds of the global wildlife population in just over four decades, according to a landmark study by the World Wildlife Fund.
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The World Lost Two-Thirds Of Its Wildlife In 50 Years. We Are to Blame

By Nathan Rott   09/10/20  
Human activities have caused the world's wildlife populations to plummet by more than two-thirds in the last 50 years, according to a new report from the World Wildlife Fund. The decline is happening at an…
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Trump administration wants to reduce critical habitat for northern spotted owls

By Monica Samayoa   08/11/20  
The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed to reduce the Northern Spotted Owl’s critical habitat population by over 200,000 acres in Oregon. The Trump administration is proposing to eliminate protections for imperiled northern spotted…
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