Staghorn CoralLatin name: Acropora Cervicornis,
Conservsation status: critically endangered (population is stable)
Coral reefs are the most diverse ecosystems in the marine world and can take 10,000 years to form. They cover less than 1% of the ocean floor but are habitat for at least 25% of all known marine life. A coral is made up of thousands of tiny animals called polyps, protected by a hard skeleton. There are 160 different species of Staghorn Coral.
In the last 30 years the Staghorn Coral population has decreased by 80% from disease, pollution, development and damage. Climate change is increasing the risk of extinction. Corals live in symbiotic (mutually beneficial) relation with algae. The coral receives nutrients and oxygen from algae, and the algae receive nutrients and carbon dioxide from the coral. Rising sea temperature increases algae growth so oxygen levels become too high for the coral, causing "bleaching"—the coral expels the algae and dies. Higher ocean acidity contributes to bleaching and also reduces the ability of corals and other marine animals to build hard shells. Other threats from climate change are sea level rise, changes in currents and storm damage.
Other animals at risk
The Shenandoah Salamander lives in an isolated, high altitude region of Shenandoah National Park, USA. Like all amphibians who have thin, permeable skin, salamanders are very sensitive to environmental changes. If average temperatures or moisture increase, this salamander, restricted to its cool micro-climate, will be at risk—having no place to go but to lower, even warmer, altitudes. If warming causes other species of lower altitude salamanders to migrate higher, they will compete for the Shenandoah's cool, moist habitats.
Polar Bears live only in the Arctic. Loss of sea ice has a critically adverse effect on Polar Bears. They hunt from the edge and build snow dens on the ice for resting and raising their cubs. Sea ice decline could open the Arctic to shipping and tourism, further disturbing Arctic habitats. Other threats are oil development and industrial pollution that reaches the Arctic through air and ocean currents.
Before 1800 there were an estimated 10–20,000 Whooping Cranes in North America. By 1941, because of hunting and habitat destruction, there were fewer than 20. There are now approximately 350–380 in the wild. The wild Whooping Crane population has only one winter habitat—a wildlife refuge on the Gulf Coast in Texas; and one spring breeding habitat—a prairie wetlands in Alberta. Severe storms, sea level rise, drought, industrial development and oil spills threaten these habitats. Another significant threat to young Whooping Cranes is colliding with power lines in their migration corridor.
Pikas live primarily in cool micro-climates on rocky slopes, feeding in adjacent meadows. Warmer temperatures and reduced snowpack are the main threats. Some Pikas may move to higher, cooler regions if there is enough vegetation. Pikas living in lower, warmer regions are at risk if they attempt to move to other regions as they are extremely sensitive to heat—more than two hours in temperatures over 78 °F can be lethal. Without enough winter snow for insulation, Pikas will freeze.