Connecticut Audubon: Six species especially vulnerable to climate change

As international negotiators gathered in Paris last week to work on agreements to lower carbon emissions, the Connecticut Audubon Society this week highlighted six at-risk species vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

In a news release Tuesday, the society emphasized that climate change is already here and having a dramatic effect on the state’s wildlife, and predicted significant drops in vulnerable nesting birds as well as the loss of mammals and fish that have recently become re-established.

The six species are: the saltmarsh sharp-tailed sparrow; the black-capped chickadee; moose; Atlantic salmon; piping plover; and roseate tern.

“These iconic but vulnerable animals are likely to be gone unless we can work together at both a local as well as global level to moderate warming and slow sea-level rise,” said Alexander Brash, president of the society, “and in Connecticut we need to better manage our habitats, increase connectivity, and find adjacent lands for marshes and beaches to expand.”

The saltmarsh sharp-tailed sparrow, endangered in the state, is likely to be among the first birds to go extinct due to sea level rise, according to University of Connecticut Ornithology Professor Chris Elphick.

The black-capped chickadee, often seen is backyard bird feeders, is moving north as temperatures warm, the society said. The state’s small moose population of 100 to 150 animals are vulnerable to ticks which can cause immune diseases as winters become milder and there is less snow cover.

Atlantic salmon, a cold water species, are expected to decrease and then disappear as river temperatures rise, the society said. Roseate terns and piping plovers and roseate terns, which nest in coastal areas and islands, are at risk from rising sea levels and more intense storms.

To slow the effects of climate change, a combination of large-scale government actions, corporate actions and small-scale individual actions, the society said.

In Connecticut, for example, a concerted effort is needed among state and local governments, private conservation organizations, and individual landowners to find, acquire, protect, and properly manage remaining parcels of undeveloped land that tidal marshes can expand onto, the society said.

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