Wildlife Extinction


Global warming, scientists say, is responsible not only for shrinking ice caps but also for a surge in extreme weather that is causing heat waves, wildfires, and droughts, not to mention sea level rise.

Researchers agree that even small changes in temperature are enough to threaten hundreds of already struggling animals. Up to half of the animal and plant species in the world’s most naturally rich areas, such as the Amazon and Galapagos, could face extinction by the turn of the century due to climate change, according to a study published in the journal Climate Change. From polar bears in the Artic to marine turtles off the coast of Africa, our planet’s diversity of life is at risk from the changing climate, even as that is not the only risk.

The key impact of global warming on wildlife is habitat disruption, in which ecosystems—places where animals have spent millions of years adapting—rapidly transform in response to climate change, reducing their ability to adjust. Habitat disruptions (mainly deforestation) are often due to changes in temperature and water availability, which affect the native vegetation and the animals that feed on it. Loss of wetlands, sea level rise, invasive species and disease are all also implicated.


‘Mutilating the tree of life’: Wildlife loss accelerating, scientists warn

By Patrick Greenfield 09/19/23
Groups of animal species are vanishing at a rate 35 times higher than average due to human activity, according to researchers, who say it is further evidence that a sixth mass extinction in Earth’s history…
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Lobstermen Face Hypoxia in Outer Cape Waters

By Georgia Hall 09/04/23
Alex Iacono, a lobsterman who says he favors lobsters and ocean solitude over people, is worried about the future of his business. Iacono, who lives in Truro and fishes out of Provincetown on the F/V…
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Can We Talk to Whales?

By Elizabeth Kolbert 09/04/23
David Gruber began his almost impossibly varied career studying bluestriped grunt fish off the coast of Belize. He was an undergraduate, and his job was to track the fish at night. He navigated by the…
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Scientists were sure climate change was bad for polar bears. Now they know how bad.

By Doyle Rice 09/01/23
There is a link between global warming and polar bears after all. And it's not a good one. According to a new study released Thursday, for the first time, scientists can measure the impact that…
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Baby Penguins Die as Record Low Antarctic Ice Stokes Extinction Risk

By Liza Tetley 08/24/23
Colonies of emperor penguins failed to breed at a level never seen before in parts of Antarctica, which saw a total sea ice loss in 2022, a new study says. The findings back predictions that…
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For Antarctica’s emperor penguins, ‘there is no time left’

For Antarctica’s emperor penguins, ‘there is no time left’A new study predicts a bleak future for these iconic birds, which experienced an unprecedented breeding failure last year due to record-low sea ice levels.
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As the Gulf of Maine warms, where are the mussels?

By Sabrina Shankman 08/19/23
A 2017 study found that as the gulf's waters have drastically warmed in the past 40 years, the population of wild blue mussels has dropped 60 percent along the coast. Since then, those who live…
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Ancient Fires Drove Large Mammals Extinct, Study Suggests

By Katrina Miller 08/17/23
Wildfires are getting worse. Parts of the United States, scientists say, are experiencing wildfires three times as often — and four times as big — as they were 20 years ago. This summer alone, smoke…
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The Guardian view on protecting corals: what lies beneath matters too | Editorial

When images of the climate emergency’s impact are so visceral and so widespread, it is easy to neglect what we cannot see. The shocking photographs and video footage of wildfires in Hawaii and Greece, and…
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What’s killing Florida’s coral reefs — and why you should care

By Dino Grandoni and Allyson Chiu 08/09/23
“Off the charts.” “Disastrous.” “The worst bleaching event that Florida has ever seen.”
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Why the climate movement doesn’t talk about polar bears anymore

By Kate Yoder 08/02/23
At Alaska’s northernmost point, a bowhead whale carcass on the beach attracted a visitor: a massive polar bear.
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The Snow Crab Vanishes

By Julia O' Malley 07/15/23
My small turboprop plane whirred low through thick clouds. Below me, St. Paul Island cut a golden, angular shape in the shadow-dark Bering Sea. I saw a lone island village—a grid of houses, a small…
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Birds And Transmission

Building the Grid Birds Need

Living Planet Report 2022

The Living Planet Report 2022 is a comprehensive study of trends in global biodiversity and the health of the planet. This flagship WWF publication reveals an average decline of 69% in species populations since 1970.…

Beyond Extinction: A New Emphasis on Species Recovery

The Sumatran rhino, the smallest, shaggiest, and most endangered of the world’s five rhinoceros species, is found only on the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Borneo.

More than 38,500 speciesare threatened with extinction

Indigenous and Local Knowledge (ILK) has been developed over centuries or millennia by indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs) and is continuously evolving. It provides a unique and rich source of information on biodiversity. There…


Sea lions are biting people. They’re sick from toxic algae, officials say.

By Kyle Melnick   07/07/23  
About a month ago, researchers knew there was a problem when hundreds of sea lions began surfacing on Southern California beaches. The charismatic but typically unaggressive sea mammals were biting people who approached them. To…
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Scientists made a frightening discovery when they measured sharks worldwide

By Dino Grandoni   06/15/23  
A massive new survey of nearly 400 coral reefs around the world reveals sharks once common in those waters are vanishing, a troubling sign that the fearsome fish are at a much greater risk of…
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3 Tragic Consequences of Global Warming on Ocean Biodiversity

By Dr. Erlijn van Genuchten   06/06/23  
Currently, our planet is suffering from the tragic consequences of three crises at the same time: the climate change, pollution, and biodiversity crisis. Biodiversity refers to the different plants and animals living in a certain…
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Scientists detected 5,000 sea creatures nobody knew existed. It’s a warning.

By Dino Grandoni   05/25/23  
There are bright, gummy creatures that look like partially peeled bananas. Glassy, translucent sponges that cling to the seabed like chandeliers flipped upside down. Phantasmic octopuses named, appropriately, after Casper the Friendly Ghost.
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Tribe signs pact with California to work together on efforts to save endangered salmon

By Ian James   05/04/23  
A California tribe has signed agreements with state and federal agencies to work together on efforts to return endangered Chinook salmon to their traditional spawning areas upstream of Shasta Dam, a deal that could advance…
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20 reasons for conservation hope in Africa

By Paula Kahumbu   05/03/23  
We all know that wildlife conservation matters, but most people couldn’t articulate why. Here’s a few suggestions: Biodiversity: Wildlife conservation helps to maintain biodiversity, which is essential to the health of our planet. Biodiversity refers…
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Safari West welcomes the birth of their first Southern White Rhinoceros calf

By Paige Peterson   04/12/23  
For 14 years, Safari West hoped Eesha might contribute to the growth of global rhino populations herself, but she never showed much interest in the male rhinos.
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Whale of a Tale: Local Anti-Wind Crowd Spins Yarns

By Frank Carini   04/06/23  
As Earth spins into a deepening climate crisis, how we continue to power society will determine our fate. So far, our actions have been guided by greed, selfishness, and lies. Bad actors and special interests…
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Snot otters and other wildlife are not rock stars. Should they be saved?

By Maxine Joselow and Dino Grandoni   04/05/23  
Pandas. Polar bears. Mountain lions. All are examples of what ecologists call “charismatic megafauna,” a term for critters that spark squeals of delight at the zoo and grace the glossy brochures of conservation groups.
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Scientists Scramble to Help Bay Scallops Survive Climate Change

By Hilary Macht   03/27/23  
Researchers begin selective breeding and other initiatives in hopes of saving the East Coast’s last wild bay scallop fisheries.
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‘Rewilding’ Parts of the Planet Could Have Big Climate Benefits

By Bob Berwyn   03/27/23  
Restoring populations of land and marine animals in targeted “rewilding” zones would speed up biological carbon pumps that remove carbon dioxide from the air and sequester the greenhouse gas where it doesn’t harm the climate,…
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The race to stop starfish from melting into goo

By Dino Grandoni   03/04/23  
In an old industrial warehouse, Tiffany Rudek leaned into a chest-high tank. Using a laminated card, she gently pried a red-speckled sea star from the enclosure’s bright blue walls. The starfish was reluctant, clinging with…
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California’s Brutal Storms May Have Killed Over Half Its Monarch Butterflies

By Lauren Leffer   03/03/23  
Monarchs overwintering along the state's coast, already endangered, were hit hard by a series of extreme winter weather events in December.
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Ecosystem collapse ‘inevitable’ unless wildlife losses reversed

By Damian Carrington   02/24/23  
Scientists studying the Permian-Triassic mass extinction find ecosystems can suddenly tip over. The steady destruction of wildlife can suddenly tip over into total ecosystem collapse, scientists studying the greatest mass extinction in Earth’s history have…
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A Basic Premise of Animal Conservation Looks Shakier Than Ever

By Emma Marris   02/22/23  
Sperm whales live in the remote open ocean. Or at least, that’s what scientists have long thought. The U.S. government’s 2010 recovery plan for sperm whales characterizes their range as “generally offshore.” A 2016 study…
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If we want to save the planet, we have to save the elephants

By Cyril Christo   02/16/23  
When CEOs and business leaders arrived in the isolated Swiss town, climate change was on the table. But the absence of conversations about elephants and global biodiversity—crucial components of our ecosystems—were glaring inconsistencies in what…
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Moving species emerges as last resort as climate warms

By Christina Larson and Matthew Brown   01/17/23  
In a desperate effort to save a seabird species in Hawaii from rising ocean waters, scientists are moving chicks to a new island hundreds of miles away. Moving species to save them — once considered…
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65% of Antarctica’s Plants and Wildlife Will Decline by 2100, Study Finds

By Susmita Baral   01/11/23  
The impact of the man-made climate crisis on Antarctica is scientifically undeniable: stable ice shelves are retreating, air temperature increased by 3 degrees Celsius, krill numbers are declining, melting ice is contributing to sea level…
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Recently Passed Federal Funding Package Makes Investments in Natural Climate Solutions

By National Audubon Society   12/23/22  
The Fiscal Year 2023 appropriations bill includes important wins for climate and conservation, though fails to include important legislation that would greatly benefit wildlife.
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Nations promise to protect 30 percent of planet to stem extinction

By Dino Grandoni   12/19/22  
Delegates at the COP15 biodiversity summit in Canada made a major conservation commitment to try to halt the loss of hundreds of thousands of plants and animals. But it remains to be seen if nations…
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Animals are running out of places to live

By Catrin Einhorn and Lauren Leatherby   12/09/22  
WILDLIFE IS DISAPPEARING around the world, in the oceans and on land. The main cause on land is perhaps the most straightforward: Humans are taking over too much of the planet, erasing what was there…
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Can the world agree on how to save its last wild animals?

By Dino Grandoni   12/09/22  
Diplomats are meeting in Montreal at a biodiversity conference this month to see whether they can rescue species from extinction....
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We rallied to save manatees once. Can we do it again?

By Gena Steffens   12/08/22  
I wasn’t expecting to invite a stranger into my great-grandmother’s house that afternoon. I’d hoped to interview National Geographic Explorer Buddy Powell on the water in Crystal River, a small town in Florida north of…
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Extraordinary close-up images show insects as you’ve never seen them before

By Nell Lewis   11/29/22  
The petrol-blue wings of a swallowtail butterfly, soft fur of a giant Patagonian bumblebee, and oil-painted smudges of a ladybug are some of the details captured by British photographer Levon Biss in a new book…
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Climate risks for Gulf of Mexico coral reefs spelled out in study

Ocean temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea are on pace to surpass critical thresholds for coral health by mid-century, but rapid action to significantly reduce emissions could slow warming, giving corals…
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The Sad Fate of the Ancient, Well-Shelled Mariners

By Natalie Angier   11/07/22  
In the Cambrian Period, 500 million years ago, the armored set ruled the seas. Soft-bodied animals secreted a mineral paste that hardened into protective shells of immense strength and deco beauty, some shaped like rams’…
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This scientist uses drones and algorithms to save whales

By Tatiana Schlossberg   10/27/22  
Just yards from the Fish 1, a 22-foot research vessel, a humpback whale about twice the size of the boat hurled itself out of the water, sending shimmering droplets in a broken necklace of splash.
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Climate change threatens emperor penguins with extinction, officials say

By Dino Grandoni   10/25/22  
It is the only animal that dares to breed during the Antarctic winter. It endures gale-force winds and freezing temperatures to lay and protect a single egg. Now climate change threatens Antarctica’s emperor penguin with…
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In a warming world, who wins: Goats or sheep?

By Dino Grandoni   10/17/22  
The decline of ice in Glacier National Park is revealing once buried salt licks. Now mountain goats and bighorn sheep are fighting over them.
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A Fast-Emptying Ark

By Bill McKibben   10/14/22  
A vast new study finds there are 70 percent fewer wild animals sharing the earth with us than there were in 1970. A vast new study finds there are 70 percent fewer wild animals sharing…
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Animal populations shrank an average of 69% over the last half-century, a report says

By Joe Hernandez   10/14/22  
Global animal populations are declining, and we've got limited time to try to fix it. That's the upshot of a new report from the World Wildlife Fund and the Zoological Society of London, which analyzed…
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Animal populations experience average decline of almost 70% since 1970, report reveals

By Patrick Greenfield   10/13/22  
Earth’s wildlife populations have plunged by an average of 69% in just under 50 years, according to a leading scientific assessment, as humans continue to clear forests, consume beyond the limits of the planet and…
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While Human Population Doubled, Wildlife Decreased By Almost 70%

By Eric Mack   10/13/22  
On average, most wildlife species number less than a third what they did in 1970, during a period when we added over four billion humans to the planet. That’s the latest startling statistic from the…
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Living Planet Index: what does an average decline of 69% really mean?

By Hannah Ritchie   10/13/22  
The Living Planet Index is the biodiversity metric that always claims the headlines. Unfortunately many of these headlines are wrong. The index is very easy to misinterpret. The Living Planet Index reports an average decline…
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Populations of monitored vertebrate species have declined 69% globally since the 1970s: WWF report

By Julia Jacobo   10/13/22  
Drastic declines in animal species over the past several decades paints a grim picture for the future of healthy ecosystems, which in turn impact human health, according to a new report. Populations of monitored vertebrate…
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Researchers Report a Staggering Decline in Wildlife. Here’s How to Understand It.

By Catrin Einhorn   10/12/22  
It’s clear that wildlife is suffering mightily on our planet, but scientists don’t know exactly how much. A comprehensive figure is exceedingly hard to determine. Counting wild animals — on land and at sea, from…
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Half of world’s bird species in decline as destruction of avian life intensifies

By Phoebe Weston   09/28/22  
The State of the World’s Birds report, which is released every four years by BirdLife International, shows that the expansion and intensification of agriculture is putting pressure on 73% of species. Logging, invasive species, exploitation…
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Climate change: More studies needed on possibility of human extinction

By Ella Hambly   08/02/22  
The authors say that the consequences of more extreme warming - still on the cards if no action is taken - are "dangerously underexplored". They argue that the world needs to start preparing for the…
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A bellwether of climate change, puffins are struggling to survive in a warming Gulf of Maine

By David Abel   07/29/22  
On a recent balmy afternoon, at the extreme southern end of their range, a steady stream of Atlantic puffins, with their unmistakable tuxedo plumage and orange webbed feet, swooped in from the sea, alighting on…
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Climate change is killing more elephants than poaching, Kenyan officials say

By Jennifer Hassan   07/28/22  
Illegal ivory poaching once posed a significant threat to Kenya’s elephants. But now the giants of the animal kingdom are facing an even bigger risk: climate change. As Kenya battles its worst drought in four…
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Climate change, vanishing islands in Louisiana threaten brown pelicans

By Christina Larson   07/28/22  
Sliding off the side of her small boat, seabird biologist Bonnie Slaton wades through waist-high water as brown pelicans soar overhead until she reaches the shores of Raccoon Island. During seabird breeding season, this place…
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Monarch butterflies are now an endangered species

By Natasha Daly   07/21/22  
A beloved visitor to summer gardens is officially an endangered species. The migratory monarch butterfly—the iconic subspecies common to North America—was declared endangered today by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the…
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Why monarch butterflies, now endangered, are on the ‘edge of collapse’

By Dino Grandoni   07/21/22  
The migratory monarch butterfly, a North American icon with a continent-spanning annual journey, now faces the threat of extinction, according to a top wildlife monitoring group.
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Threat of global extinction may be greater than previously thought, study finds

By Gianna Melillo   07/19/22  
Amid increasingly dire headlines foretelling a grim outlook for the Earth’s biodiversity and environment, results of a new survey conducted among more than 3,300 scientists show the extent of extinction might be even worse than…
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Lazy Bears and Confused Birds: What a Warming Planet Means for Wildlife

By David J. Craig   06/21/22  
The Alaskan tundra, a vast, windswept, and treeless region at the edge of the Arctic Circle, is a place of stunning natural beauty. In winter, the area is blanketed by darkness, and polar bears, wolves,…
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Winter ticks wiped out nearly 90% of the moose calves scientists tracked in part of Maine last year

By Kevin Miller and Others   05/18/22  
Maine is home to the largest moose population in the lower 48 states. But in one of the moosiest corners of the state, nearly 90% of the calves tracked by biologists last winter didn’t survive…
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Ocean animals face a mass extinction from climate change

By Sarah Kaplan   04/28/22  
Warming waters are cooking creatures in their own habitats. Many species are slowly suffocating as oxygen leaches out of the seas. Even populations that have managed to withstand the ravages of overfishing, pollution and habitat…
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Warning on Mass Extinction of Sea Life: ‘An Oh My God Moment’

By Catrin Einhorn   04/28/22  
At first, the scientists chose a straightforward title for their research: “Marine Extinction Risk From Climate Warming.” But as publication approached, something nagged at them. Their findings illustrated two drastically different outcomes for ocean life…
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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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Polar bear inbreeding and bird ‘divorces’: Weird ways climate change is affecting animal species

By Julia Jacobo   02/12/22  
The world's biodiversity is constantly being threatened by warming temperatures and extreme changes in climate and weather patterns. And while that "doom and gloom" is the typical discourse surrounding how climate change is affecting biodiversity,…
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