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CALIFORNIA SPECIES THAT NEED US TO GET TO 350 Photo credits
Alpine chipmunk (Tamias alpinus)
Range: California's Sierra Nevada
The Alpine chipmunk is native to the high elevations of California’s Sierra Nevada, rarely occurring below 8,200 feet. The little mammal nests in crevices between rocks and hibernates from November through April, frequently waking to eat. As climate change causes temperatures to increase in the Sierra Nevadas, this species has been forced to move upslope. In Yosemite National Park, the alpine chipmunk has shifted upward by more than 2,000 feet during the past 90 years. As temperatures continue to climb, the alpine chipmunk is in danger of running out of habitat.
American pika (Ochotona princeps)
Range: Mountains in western United States and Canada
This tiny rabbit relative, adapted to cold climates, lives in boulder fields near mountain peaks. Pikas can die from overheating when exposed to temperatures as low as 78 degrees Fahrenheit for just a few hours. Besides directly killing pikas through overheating, climate change threatens the mammals by exposing them to summer heat stress, shrinking snowpack that insulates them from winter cold snaps, shortening their food-gathering period, changing the types of food available, and shrinking the alpine meadows where they feed. Rising temperatures have already been linked to the loss of more than one-third of documented pika populations in the Great Basin Mountains. Climate change is projected to virtually eliminate suitable habitat for the pika in this century if greenhouse gas pollution is not drastically reduced.

Thanks to the Center's 2007 petition and 2008 lawsuit, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must decide whether the pika should be protected under the Endangered Species Act by February 2010.
American wolverine (Gulo gulo luscus)
Range: Small, fragmented, and semi-isolated populations in high-elevation habitat in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming; also possibly in Colorado, Minnesota, Washington, Oregon, California, Michigan, Wisconsin, Utah, New Mexico, North Dakota, and South Dakota
The wolverine, the largest land-dwelling species in the mustelid family, is famous for its daring and tenacity — it’s been known to prey on animals as big as moose and to scare mountain lions and wolves off their kills. But the number of wolverines in the United States has dropped significantly in the past 100 years. Fewer than 500 wolverines left in the lower 48 states represent a distinct population. Wolverines depend on deep snow for denning to give birth and rear their young from February through early May. Climate change threatens the wolverine’s ability to raise young by reducing snowpack in the western mountains.

In September 2008, the Center and allies sued the Fish and Wildlife Service for deciding not to protect the wolverine and letting political considerations win out over scientific findings on the animal’s endangerment. The Service has agreed to re-examine the wolverine’s situation, with a new listing decision due in December 2010.
Arroyo toad (Bufo californicus)
Range: Southern California to northern Baja California, Mexico; a few drainages in San Gabriel and San Bernardino mountain ranges
The arroyo toad endures harsh conditions by burrowing into sandy streamsides and sealing itself within a thin shell of shed skin. Once found in large numbers from Monterey to San Diego and northern Baja California, arroyo toads have disappeared from as much as 65 percent of their historic range. Global warming is increasing the frequency and severity of droughts in the Southwest, which will make already dry conditions even more extreme for the toad.

In 2000, the Center settled a suit that closed parts of Los Padres National Forest to protect arroyo toad habitat. In December 2007, we sued the Bush administration for its failure to adequately protect the toad by issuing a 2005 decision that cut the toad’s proposed critical habitat by more than 90 percent. The Service has agreed to issue a new arroyo toad critical habitat proposal by October 2009.
Ash Meadows gumplant (Grindelia fraxino-pratensis)
Range: Ash Meadows area, primarily Amargosa Valley in southwestern Nevada and bordering sites in California
This member of the sunflower family is primarily found on flat, open, alkaline soils in meadows and wetlands near seeps and springs. Only a small number of Ash Meadows gumplants are known — the total area of all known populations may be less than one square mile. Because of its dependence on seeps and springs, the Ash Meadows gumplant is threatened by the lowering of water tables due to agricultural uses, as well as trampling by livestock and wildlife using the springs as water sources. Pressures on water resources are likely to increase under climate change.

This plant was federally listed as threatened in 1985. In 2001, settlement of a Center case required the Bureau of Land Management to fence off the gumplant’s sensitive riparian habitat to shield it from cattle and nearby road use.
Ash-grey Indian paintbrush (Castilleja cinerea)
Range: Small number of sites in Southern California
The ash-grey Indian paintbrush is a semi-parasitic perennial plant that receives nutrients from host plants such as native buckwheats and sagebrushes. A source of nectar for hummingbirds and insects, the plant primarily depends on the clay, stony soils of pebble-plains habitat. This plant was federally listed as a threatened species in 2006. Although ash-grey Indian paintbrush is moderately adapted to fire, an increase in fire frequency could hurt the host plants on which the paintbrush relies. Similarly, changes in plant associations due to climate change could cause a loss of host plants from the limited sites where the ash-grey Indian paintbrush currently grows.

The Center has worked to protect the pebble-plains habitat of the ash-grey Indian paintbrush, including blocking development near the San Bernardino’s Big Bear Lake.
Ashy storm petrel (Oceanodroma Homochroa)
Range: Off the coast of central California south to Baja, Mexico
This small, ash-gray seabird comes and goes from its nesting burrows only at night, using the darkness as protection from would-be predators. The ashy nests on only a handful of islands off the coast of California and Baja California and has declined dramatically in numbers in recent decades. Increasing ocean temperatures, harsher El Niño events, and ocean acidification in the California Current marine ecosystem off the West Coast threaten the ecosystem’s entire food web, including the petrel’s prey. Sea-level rise threatens to drown important nesting habitat for the bird in sea caves and on offshore rocks.

The Center petitioned to list the seabird as federally endangered in 2007. In August 2009, the agency announced it would not protect the bird, despite science clearly showing its endangerment.
Bay checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas editha bayensis)
Range: San Francisco peninsula, San Mateo County, Santa Clara County
The Bay checkerspot was once widespread in the native grasslands of San Francisco Bay. Urban expansion and exotic plants eliminated the butterfly from Contra Costa, Alameda, and San Francisco counties, isolating it to small patches of serpentine habitat in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. Extinctions of bay checkerspot butterfly populations in the 1990s have been linked with increasing extremes in rainfall — drought and flooding — due to climate change. Bay checkerspot larvae don’t survive well in years of drought or flooding because the plants they feed on aren’t available when the larvae need them.

The Center filed suit and ultimately won more than 23,000 acres of habitat protections for the butterfly — but the Bush administration slashed that protected habitat by 23 percent in August 2008. The Center is also working to monitor and oppose harmful pesticides in the checkerspot’s habitat.
Big Bear Valley sandwort (Arenaria ursine)
Range: San Bernardino County, California, in the vicinity of Big Bear Lake, above 6,700 feet
Big Bear Valley sandwort is a flowering plant in the pink family that prefers wet, rocky sites. Like the ash-grey Indian paintbrush, Arenaria ursina is primarily specific to the clay, stony soils of the pebble-plains habitats. There are only 25 known occurrences, 17 of which are on the San Bernardino National Forest. This plant is particularly vulnerable to disturbance and soil compaction that occurs when the pebble-plains sites are used as firebreaks during efforts to fight fire in the surrounding forests. Also, changes in precipitation and temperature caused by climate change may decrease the extent and duration of the conditions favored by the Big Bear Valley sandwort.

Big Bear Valley sandwort was federally listed as a threatened species in 1998. The Center has worked to protect the pebble-plains habitat of this plant, including blocking development near the San Bernardino’s Big Bear Lake.
Black abalone (Haliotis cracherodii)
Range: Between Coos Bay, Oregon, and tip of Baja California, Mexico
Black abalone were once the most abundant large shellfish clinging to the rocks of intertidal zones between Baja and Oregon. A savored delicacy for sea otters and coastal peoples alike, these hard-shelled marine snails were prized for the iridescent colors and the occasional pearl found inside their shells. Black abalone have been virtually eliminated throughout most of their range and are now threatened by global warming. Warmer water will increase the deadliness of wasting disease, which plagues abalone, and will likely reduce the kelp species abalone consumed. Rising sea levels will eliminate much of the species’ intertidal habitat, while ocean acidification, caused by the ocean’s absorption of excess CO2, may stop the abalone from building its protective shell.

The Center petitioned to list the black abalone as an endangered species in 2006 and in 2009, the species was officially listed as endangered.
Black-footed albatross (Phoebastria nigripes)
Range: Breed on Pacific Ocean islands, mainly Northwestern Hawaiian Islands; forage in North Pacific Ocean
This large, long-winged seabird makes epic journeys across the North Pacific, sometimes exceeding 9,000 kilometers per trip, to gather squid and fish to feed its chick. While at sea, thousands of black-footed albatrosses are drowned every year in U.S. and international longline and gillnet fisheries. Because most of the world’s black-footed albatrosses nest on the low-lying islands of the Northwest ern Hawaiian Island chain, sea-level rise and higher storm surge due to climate change threaten to drown nests.

The Center and other groups petitioned to protect this species under the Endangered Species Act in 2004, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is now deciding whether to protect this species.
Bocaccio (Sebastes paucispinis)
Range: From Stepovak Bay, Alaska to central Baja California; most abundant from Oregon to northern Baja California
The Bocaccio is a member of the rockfish family. One of the larger rockfish, it can grow up to three feet in length and live for 45 years. For the bocaccio and other rockfish, big, fat, and old females are the most important females, since they produce the largest numbers of eggs and the highest quality eggs, which have a better chance of surviving to become the next generation. Never-before-observed low-oxygen and no-oxygen “dead zones” linked with global warming have been forming in the California Current marine ecosystem, causing massive die-offs of rockfish and other oxygen-starved marine creatures.

In 2001, the Center and allies petitioned the National Marine Fisheries Service to list the population of bocaccio south of Cape Mendocino as threatened, as well as to designate critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act.
Boreal toad (Anaxyrus boreas boreas)
Range: North-central California, east through Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming, and north to southern Alaska
Boreal toads use holes dug by other animals for burrowing, and they can spend half of their lives hibernating. To find their way, like other toads, they use the stars and their sense of smell. Water pollution, habitat loss, and chytrid fungus have already resulted in the boreal toad disappearing from much its range. Because the toad only lives at high elevations — for example, above 8,500 feet in Colorado — global warming’s rising temperatures add yet another threat to the species. With rising temperatures, suitable habitat for the toad is pushed to even higher elevations, and habitat patches become more isolated, giving the toad fewer places to call home. In Yellowstone National Park, increased warming, reduced annual rainfall, and increasing drought conditions have already dried up pond habitat for the boreal toad and other amphibians.
Buena Vista Lake ornate shrew (Sorex ornatus relictus)
Range: 575 acres scattered along a 70-mile stretch of the west side of California’s Tulare Basin
With a voracious appetite for insects, a long snout, and beady little eyes, the Buena Vista Lake ornate shrew is one intriguing mammal. Along with habitat destruction, the shrew population is also threatened by water diversions, agricultural expansion, pesticide spraying, selenium poisoning, and drought sure to worsen with global warming. The shrew is threatened by increasing precipitation extremes in California’s Central Valley, including drought that could dry up wetlands and flooding from periodic, extreme rainfall events.

As the result of a lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agreed in 2009 to review and redesignate habitat that’s critical for the survival and recovery of the one of the most endangered mammals on the planet.
Western burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia hypugaea)
Range: North, Central, and South America
Unlike most owls, the burrowing owl doesn’t live in trees, and it’s not nocturnal. It makes its nest underground — usually in abandoned rodent burrows — and is active both day and night. Although the burrowing owl was once widespread, habitat destruction has reduced the western burrowing owl’s breeding populations by more than 60 percent. Much of the burrowing owl’s western habitat will become drier, and drought conditions will increase with global warming, which will likely lead to reduced food supply for the owl.

The Center and allies petitioned in 2003 to protect the California population of the owl under the California Endangered Species Act, but the state refused to list the owl based largely on an inaccurate, inconsistent report by the California Department of Fish and Game. Our efforts to combat urban sprawl throughout the Southwest and California will help preserve burrowing owl habitat.
Butte County meadowfoam (Limnanthes floccosa ssp. californica)
Range: Northern Sacramento Valley, California
Butte County meadowfoam grows along the edges of vernal pools and ephemeral streams. There are only 11 known populations, restricted to a narrow, 25-mile strip along the northern Sacramento Valley of California. Butte County meadowfoam is an annual wetlands flower. Listed as endangered 1992, all remaining plants are threatened by urban development and the conversion of vernal pool habitat to agricultural fields. Global warming threatens vernal pool habitat in general, with changes in precipitation and higher temperatures increasing stress on vernal pool species — and potentially drying pools entirely. Vernal pool populations are particularly vulnerable to extirpation due to their small populations, limited distribution, and dependence on particular site characteristics, all making migration from climate impacts extremely difficult or impossible.
California clapper rail (Rallus longirostris obsoletus)
Range: California’s San Francisco, Moray, and Monterey bays
The California clapper rail is an endangered subspecies of clapper rail found principally in the San Francisco Bay. It’s a chicken-sized bird that rarely flies and needs wetlands dominated by pickleweed, bulrush, and cordgrass for food and cover from predators. Population numbers are precariously low due to destruction of its coastal and estuarine marshland habitat by development. Sea-level rise threatens to squeeze the California clapper rail and its marsh habitat between rising waters and asphalt from Bay Area development. The clapper rail’s estuary, salt marsh, and tidal flat habitat will be lost if these habitats aren’t allowed to move inland with rising sea levels, which could be prevented by coastal development and coastal armoring.

In July 2009, the Center settled a 2007 lawsuit filed against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requiring the agency to formally evaluate the harmful effects of 74 pesticides on nearly a dozen Bay Area species, including the clapper rail.
California dandelion (Taraxacum californicum)
Range: San Bernardino Mountains of California
The modestly beautiful California dandelion is known at only 28 sites — each with very few individuals — primarily in moist meadows at higher elevations (6,500-8,500 feet). High mountain meadows are at particular risk of experiencing dramatic changes in precipitation, hydrology, and temperature due to climate change, all of which can change the water available for the California dandelion at critical times in the summer, as well as alter the vegetation community associated with the dandelion.

This small perennial dandelion was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act in 1998. The Center spent almost 10 years on efforts to earn federally protected critical habitat for the plant.
California orcutt grass (Orcuttia tenuis)
Range: Southern California’s San Diego and Riverside counties
California orcutt grass grows in vernal pool habitat, favoring the wetter part of the pools. The plant is a federally listed threatened species and is declining throughout its range. Populations are damaged by free-ranging cattle, as well as the Border Patrol’s heavy use of dirt roads adjacent to the vernal pools the grass relies upon. These impacts have already made California orcutt grass one of the rarest plants in San Diego and Riverside counties. Global warming threatens vernal pool habitat in general, with changes in precipitation and higher temperatures leading to increased evaporation, higher water temperatures, and increased stress on vernal pool species. In years when rainfall is sporadic and pools are late to fill or early to recede, California orcutt grass may fail to germinate or occur only in low numbers in areas where it’s normally been abundant; in some cases, it may even appear to be absent.

In 2007, the Center filed a notice of intent to sue the Bush administration for violations of the Endangered Species Act as a result of a planned transmission corridor.
California red-legged frog (Rana draytonii)
Range: California’s Sonoma and Butte counties in the north to Riverside County in the south, mostly in the western counties
Experts agree: Mark Twain’s favorite amphibian, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” is none other than the California red-legged frog. Once so common it was a staple cuisine, California’s largest native frog has now lost 90 percent of its historic population. Decreases in rainfall and warming temperatures caused by climate change threaten this frog’s breeding sites, some of which are ephemeral ponds that are at risk of drying up before the tadpoles have become frogs.

In December 2007, the Center sued to ensure that the frog’s new critical habitat designation was adequate, and in September 2008, the Service proposed quadrupling the designation to 1.8 million acres.
California spotted owl (Strix occidentalis occidentalis)
Range: Sierra Nevada and Southern California mountain ranges
The iconic California spotted owl is a bellwether of old-growth forests. This owl’s classic four-note call was once commonly heard throughout the big trees of the Sierra Nevada and Southern California ranges, but logging, sprawl, and invasion by the barred owl are silencing it. Old-growth forests in the range of the California spotted owl have declined by roughly 90 percent. Increased precipitation during the late breeding season lowers the success of spotted owls in raising their young, likely by inhibiting prey populations and parents’ ability to capture prey for their offspring, or by directly causing the deaths of chicks. Altered rainfall patterns caused by climate change could thus jeopardize the owl’s ability to rear its young.

The Center has helped stop a number of timber sales in the Sierra Nevada and advocated for strong owl protection in plans developed for the Giant Sequoia National Monument and four Southern California national forests.
California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense)
Range: Central California and California’s Santa Barbara and Sonoma counties
The California tiger salamander thrives in unique and now extremely rare habitats — California’s vernal pools, grasslands, and oak woodlands that have been hard hit by development. This elusive salamander takes refuge during the dry summers by tucking away in the small mammal burrows. During the first rainy nights of winter, they leave their burrows and trek to seasonal vernal pools where they mate and lay eggs before returning to their retreats. California tiger salamander juveniles need vernal pools that last long enough for them to complete their metamorphosis into land-dwelling adults. Reduced rainfall and droughts that cause pools to dry up too quickly can cause the loss of local populations. Increased droughts from global warming threatened the survival of the species.

After many years of Center litigation, in August 2009 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to designate 74,223 acres of critical habitat for the Sonoma County salamanders.
Carson wandering skipper (Pseudocopaeodes eunus obscurus)
Range: One population in Washoe County, Nevada, and one in Lassen County, California
The dorsal side of the wings of this beautiful little butterfly are tawny orange except for a narrow uniform border and black veins near the border at the outer edge of the wing. The underside of the hindwing is pale, creamy orange with two creamy rays extending from the base of the wing. Carson wandering skipper females lay their cream-colored eggs on salt grass, which usually occurs where the water table is high enough to keep its roots saturated for most of the year. Potential changes in the water table resulting from global warming threaten this butterfly’s survival. The species is also threatened by livestock grazing, off-road vehicle activity, encroaching development, gas and geothermal development, pesticide drift, and nonnative plant invasion.

In 2001, the Center and partners reached an agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to help speed protection of the Carson wandering skipper and 28 other species.
Cascades frog (Rana cascadae)
Range: California, Oregon, Washington, and southern British Columbia, mostly in the Cascades and Olympic Mountains
The Cascades frog inhabits wet, mountain areas near streams, ponds and bogs at higher elevations, typically above 2,000 feet. It spends the winter hibernating in the mud and emerges when the snow melts to find mates and breed. Although populations in Oregon and Washington appear to be stable at present, the Cascades frog has disappeared from 50 percent of its historic range in California, with high losses of the southernmost populations in the northern Sierra Nevadas and Mount Lassen.

Warming temperatures, reduced snowpack and earlier spring runoff in the western U.S. mountains threaten to dry this frog's upper-elevation wet-meadow, marsh, creek and pond habitat. Frogs that come out of hibernation and begin breeding earlier as temperatures rise may become more vulnerable to spring flooding and freezing. Climate change can also be more favorable to some amphibian parasites and disease.
Cassin’s auklet (Ptychoramphus aleuticus)
Range: Pacific Ocean and West Coast from Alaska to Mexico
Underwater, the Cassin's auklet is an agile diver, propelling itself to depths of up to 80 meters with its wings to feed on krill — small, shrimp-like crustaceans. While flying, this small, chunky seabird is a little less graceful, resembling a mini-football with rapidly whirring wings. Cassin’s auklets nests in deep burrows on offshore islands without predators from Alaska to Mexico. Increasing ocean temperatures, harsher El Niño events, and ocean acidification in the California Current marine ecosystem off the West Coast threaten the ecosystem’s entire food web, including the prey of the Cassin’s auklet. The world’s largest breeding populations in British Columbia and the largest California population have been rapidly declining in recent decades, including years of unprecedented complete breeding failure when chicks starved en masse. This failure has been linked to changes in ocean climate conditions.
Central California coast steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)
Range: Coastal California streams from Russian River to Soquel Creek and tributaries of San Francisco and San Pablo bays
Steelhead are a unique form of rainbow trout. Like salmon, they spend most of their adult lives in the ocean but spawn and rear in freshwater streams and rivers. Rising water temperatures caused by global warming could drive salmon and trout, including the steelhead, from many U.S. waterways. Studies have suggested that the cold-water habitat required by salmon and trout could shrink by more than 40 percent over the next century if steps aren’t taken to curb emissions of greenhouse gases.

After the trout was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1997, the Center and a coalition of fishing and environmental groups filed a lawsuit resulting in critical habitat protections and regulations preventing illegal “take” of central coast steelhead.
Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha)
Range: Monterey Bay, California to Chukchi Sea, Alaska
The chinook salmon is the largest member of the salmon family, reaching nearly five feet in length. This fish is highly valued as both a game and commercial fish, particularly since it’s scarce compared to other Pacific salmon. The chinook is imperiled by threats to both ocean water and freshwater, as it lives in both habitats at different stages in its lifecycle.

Rising temperatures and changing river flows threaten cold water-loving chinook salmon in several ways. Warmer river and stream temperatures put these fish under higher metabolic stress, increase their susceptibility to parasites and disease, and can cause eggs to hatch earlier in the year, so the young are smaller and more vulnerable to predators. High levels of winter flooding can wash away salmon eggs in streambeds, while earlier melting of snow leaves rivers and streams warmer and shallower in the summer and fall. One study found that up to 40 percent of chinook salmon in the Snohomish River basin in western Washington state may be lost by 2050.
Chum salmon (Oncorhynchus keta)
Range: Coastal waters along Northern Pacific Rim, from Tillamook Bay, Oregon extending north and west to northern Japan
Chum salmon, also sometimes referred to as “dog salmon,” are second only to chinook salmon in size and were historically perhaps the most abundant of all salmon. Breeding males develop pronounced canine-like teeth — hence the “dog” moniker — and a bold tricolor pattern on the body. Chum salmon have long been popular as both sport and food fish, but they’re now dangerously close to extinction, with several subpopulations believed to be extirpated and more robust populations declining each year.

Rising temperatures and changing river flows threaten cold water-loving chum salmon in several ways. Warmer river and stream temperatures put the fish under higher metabolic stress and increase their susceptibility to parasites and disease. Earlier melting of snow leaves rivers and streams warmer and shallower in the summer and fall, while high levels of winter flooding can wash away salmon eggs in the streambed.
Coachella Valley milk vetch (Astragalus lentiginosus var. coachellae)
Range: Coachella Valley in Riverside County, California, found in fewer than 25 locations at low elevations
Living at the edge of Southern California’s Colorado Desert, this foot-tall flowering herb is dependent on sand dune habitat, which is easily devastated by off-road vehicles. Very small populations at each known site —fewer than 25 sites in all — also make the plant particularly vulnerable to disturbance and random events such as drought. Global warming threatens the milk vetch through changing rain patterns that increase the likelihood of drought, as well as higher temperatures that may increase water needs during the early spring bloom and throughout the year.

A Center lawsuit led the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to grant Endangered Species Act protection to this imperiled desert plant in 1998.
Coastal California gnatcatcher (Polioptila californica)
Range: Southern California and Baja California, Mexico
In the coastal sage scrub that once stretched unbroken from Ventura County to northern Baja California, this tiny gray songbird’s habitat now lies amid a patchwork of freeways, shopping malls, and farmlands. Ninety percent of Southern California’s coastal sage scrub has already been lost to development, and remnant patches have been hit hard by unnaturally frequent wildfire. According to a recent Audubon study, the California gnatcatcher — which has already lost most its habitat — could lose as much as 56 percent of its range due to climate change.

Since the gnatcatcher was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act — soon after the Center filed a listing petition — the Center has successfully pressed for improved conservation measures for the bird under the San Diego Multiple Species Conservation Plan and won a landmark settlement to protect the gnatcatcher.
Conservancy fairy shrimp (Branchinecta conservatio)
Range: California
The endangered conservancy fairy shrimp’s delicate body is only about a half-inch to an inch long, but that tiny body has 11 pairs of legs used for swimming. In a wavelike motion, the legs help this crustacean glide gracefully upside down. Conservancy fairy shrimp occupy cool-water vernal pools that fill with water in the rainy season, then slowly dry up. These ephemeral wetlands are remnants of what was a pristine vernal pool ecosystem, which has been converted to primarily agricultural and urban uses. Today, global warming threatens to dry up the remaining but shrinking vernal pool ecosystems of California that the fairy shrimp needs to survive.

In 2004, the Center published Silent Spring Revisited, a report on pesticide use and endangered species; among the species highlighted: the conservancy fairy shrimp. The report concluded that the Environmental Protection Agency’s pesticide registration program must be reformed to comply with the Endangered Species Act and prevent registration and use of harmful pesticides that are jeopardizing to humans and wildlife.
Contra Costa goldfields (Lasthenia conjugens)
Range: Northern California
A showy, spring flower in the sunflower family that can grow to a height of 12 inches, Contra Costa goldfields grows in vernal pools within open grassy areas in woodlands and valley grasslands at low elevations in northern California. Only 22 populations are known. All these populations are threatened by urban development or agricultural land conversion. Global warming threatens vernal pool habitat in general, with changes in precipitation and higher temperatures leading to increased evaporation, higher water temperatures, and increased stress on vernal pool species.

The Center’s efforts have provided Endangered Species Act protections for more than 35 Bay Area species, including the Contra Costa goldfields. In 1997, the Center notified the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service we’d sue the agency if it didn’t list 95 western species that had been proposed for listing but were languishing without a final decision. The Contra Costa goldfields was listed as endangered that year.
Delta green ground beetle (Elaphrus viridis)
Range: Solano County, California
California's great Central Valley. It’s associated with vernal pools, which are seasonally wet pools that accumulate in low areas with poor drainage. Dry in the summer, these pools fill with the onset of winter rains. The beetle’s life cycle is in synchrony with its habitat. The beetle emerges in January, breeds in February and March, and then enters a period of dormancy in May as the pools dry up. The development of the Central Valley for agriculture has eliminated much of the vernal pool habitat. Saving the beetle will require saving vernal pools, and as global warming intensifies, California’s remaining vernal pools may dry up —leaving this beetle without a place to live.
Delta smelt (Hypomesus transpacificus)
Range: Upper reaches of the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Estuary
The tiny delta smelt is one of the best indicators of environmental conditions in the San Francisco Bay-Delta, an ecologically important estuary that is a major hub for California’s water system — and an ecosystem that is now rapidly unraveling. The delta smelt is only one of 12 of the original 29 indigenous Delta fish species that have been eliminated entirely from the area or that are threatened with extinction. An extinction risk analysis in 2006 warned that the Delta smelt could go extinct within 20 years. Warming-caused sea-level rise will alter salinity conditions in the estuary, which will adversely affect delta smelt habitat quality. More frequent and larger flood events, also caused by climate change, may increase freshwater inflows during the winter and early spring, rather than during the late spring, for which the species is adapted.

A Center petition spurred the California Fish and Game Commission to upgrade the delta smelt’s state protection status from threatened to endangered; we’ve also filed a notice of intent to sue to achieve uplisting on the federal level.
Desert pupfish (Cyprinodon macularius)
Range: Gila and Colorado river drainages in Arizona, California, and Mexico
Nipping at the heels of potential mates, the stout, ray-finned pupfish gained its name from its striking resemblance to frolicking young puppies. Cousins to the well-known guppy, pupfish are not only playful but also remarkably tolerant of extreme environmental conditions. Dwelling in pools, marshes, streams, and springs of the Southwest, desert pupfish can endure water temperatures exceeding 110 degrees and can tolerate water more than twice as salty as the ocean. But decreasing precipitation leading to a lower water table may threaten the pupfish’s ability to survive. And as hardy as this fish is, a warmer climate may push the temperature high enough to kill pupfish eggs.

In 1996, the Center filed a lawsuit resulting reduced destructive livestock grazing on the Gila River, important habitat for the pupfish. Since then, we’ve worked to protect the fragile Colorado River delta, safeguard the Salton Sea, and restore full flows to Arizona’s Fossil Creek— all waterways indispensable to pupfish.
Desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii)
Range: Southern California, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona
Desert tortoises have lived in the deserts of California, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah since the Pleistocene. As many as 1,000 tortoises per square mile once inhabited the Mojave in the early 20th century. But by the end of the century, this population of the desert tortoise was listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, largely due to vanishing habitat, while Army translocation projects threaten to devastate the Mojave population. The desert tortoise will face increasing stress from drought, heat waves, and changes in the vegetation it relies on for food, in addition to the cumulative impacts of global warming with livestock grazing, human disturbance, disease, fire, and predators.

Thanks to a lawsuit by the Center and Desert Survivors, in 2008 Fort Irwin officials suspended a disastrous desert tortoise translocation project that killed hundreds of the animals. A new translocation project was proposed in 2009 — but it was put on hold after a flood of comments from our supporters.
Fish Slough milk vetch (Astragalus lentiginosus var. piscinensis)
Range: California
The rare Fish Slough milk vetch is a member of the pea family, found exclusively on sandy alkali meadows at elevations of 3,500 to 3,700 feet in a desert oasis in southeastern California named Fish Slough. Fish Slough also provides habitat for several other rare plants and animals, including the Owens pupfish and the King’s ivesia. Fish Slough milk vetch is a perennial with lavender flowers. It was listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act in 1998, due to a number of threats: habitat destruction from off-road vehicle use, cattle grazing, competition with nonnative plant species, groundwater pumping, and water diversions. Fish Slough milk-vetch is particularly vulnerable due to its extremely limited distribution at a single site. Increased temperatures and altered precipitation due to global warming can exacerbate threats to the milk vetch by further stressing the plant and increasing water pumping from the aquifer on which the Fish Slough oasis depends.

The Center and California Native Plant Society sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2001 to compel the designation of critical habitat for the Fish Slough milk vetch and seven other plants. Critical habitat was designated in 2005.
Fleshy owl’s clover (Castilleja campestris succulenta)
Range: California
Succulent owl’s-clover is also known as fleshy owl’s-clover. Its bright yellow to white flowers appear in May. It lives in the margins of vernal pools and some seasonal wetlands, often on acidic soils. Through August 2005, the California Natural Diversity Data Base had catalogued only 91 occurrences. Habitat loss and fragmentation are the largest threats to the survival and recovery of vernal pool species, including the fleshy owl’s clover. And global warming adds another factor that threatens to dry up the remaining but shrinking vernal pool ecosystems of California, where the fleshy owl’s clover lives.
Fringed myotis (Myotis thysanodes)
Range: Texas’ Trans-Pecos region in summer
The fringed myotis is a species of vesper bat found in Canada, Mexico, and the United States. It occurs in a variety of habitats including desert-scrub, fir-pine, and oak and pinyon woodlands. It may roost in caves, mines, or buildings. Fringed bats are known to migrate, but little is known about their migration patterns.
Bats that inhabit arid regions, like the fringed myotis, are vulnerable to climate change because they need sufficient standing water for drinking. Standing water sources in arid areas are particularly important for nursing females, which need to drink much more than other bats to produce milk. One study concluded that predicted loss of water resources in the western United States due to climate change would lead to declines in regional bat populations, particularly by hurting bat reproduction.
Giant kangaroo rat (Dipodomys ingens)
Range: California’s Carrizo Plain
The giant kangaroo rat, an endangered rodent species that exists only in California, is the largest of the kangaroo rats, measuring about six inches — not including its long, tufted tail. As with other k-rats, its long, strong hind legs enable it to hop at high speeds. It lives in colonies and communicates by drumming its feet both to warn of approaching danger and as a territorial communication. This species currently inhabits less than 2 percent of its original range. Reductions in rainfall and increasing drought due to climate change threaten this species. The amount and timing of rainfall in the kangaroo’s arid home can strongly influence kangaroo rat population dynamics. More rainfall leads to a greater production of seeds the kangaroo rat eats and to more green vegetation, containing water necessary for lactation, that females need to successfully nurse their young.
Giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum)
Range: Sierra Nevada of California
Famous naturalist John Muir wrote of this species in about 1870, “Do behold the King Sequoia! Behold! Behold! seems all I can say.” Giant sequoias are the world's largest trees in terms of total volume. They grow to an average height of 165 to 280 feet and can be 18 to 24 feet in diameter. The oldest known giant sequoia is estimated to be 3,500 years old. As temperatures and summer droughts increase, researchers have warned that the sequoia could die off more quickly, following the pattern recently found for old-growth pine and fir trees in Yosemite and Sequoia national parks. Climate change could also interfere with the giant sequoias' ability to sprout seedlings, making it more difficult for trees to replace themselves.

In 2005, the Center joined other conservation organizations to challenge a Bush administration decision to log Giant Sequoia National Monument, home to two-thirds of all sequoia redwoods in the world.
Gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus)
Range: Shallow coastal waters of eastern North Pacific
The eastern North Pacific gray whale is believed to make the longest yearly migration of any mammal, traveling in two to three months an amazing 16,000 to 22,000 kilometers at an average speed of only five kilometers per hour. During the summer, gray whales bulk up in the arctic waters off Alaska, scooping up gigantic mouthfuls of mud from the ocean bottom and filtering out bottom-dwelling critters. Come fall, they make the epic journey to the warm, shallow lagoons of Baja California to give birth and nurse their young.

In recent years, increasing numbers of malnourished gray whales have been observed all along their migratory route, and scientists believe that ocean warming may be decreasing their food supply. The rapid loss of arctic sea ice appears to be lowering the abundance of bottom-dwelling prey for gray whales in traditional foraging grounds off Alaska. Gray whales are also beginning their southbound migration later, which means they spend less time in calving lagoons nursing their young.
North American green sturgeon (Acipenser medirostris)
Range: From the Bering Sea to Ensenada, Mexico; in estuaries and bays from British Columbia, to Monterey Bay; in river mouths from the Skeena River to the Sacramento River
Reaching up to seven feet long and weighing up to 350 pounds, the ancient but imperiled green sturgeon has survived unchanged for the past 200 million years. This bottom-dwelling fish spends much of its adult life in bays and estuaries, returning to only three rivers to spawn — Oregon’s Rogue River and the Klamath and Sacramento rivers in California. Threats to the green sturgeon include water withdrawals from rivers, dams blocking access to spawning habitat, overfishing, poaching for caviar, and now global warming. Because green sturgeon need good water quality and specific temperatures to spawn and hatch their eggs, rising river temperatures and changes in river flows threaten their ability to reproduce. As precipitation shifts from snowpack (which melts gradually) to rainfall, the salinity of estuaries is predicted to change, increasing stress on the sturgeon.

Thanks to the Center, the southern green sturgeon was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 2006; federal protections for habitat were proposed in 2008.
Greene’s tuctoria (Tuctoria greenei)
Range: Butte, Merced, Shasta, and Tehama counties, California
Greene's tuctoria has many names, including Greene's orcutt grass and awnless spiralgrass. This tufted annual in the grass family is restricted to vernal pools in northern California. Because it grows in the margins of vernal pools, Greene’s tuctoria is susceptible to livestock trampling and competition from nonnative weeds. The vernal pool ecosystems on which it depends are also highly fragmented by development for both agricultural and urban uses, while global warming threatens to dry up the remaining pools.
Hairy orcutt grass (Orcuttia pilosa)
Range: Central Valley, California
Hairy orcutt grass inhabits the vernal pools cradled in the rolling hills of California’s great Central Valley. It grows alongside slender orcutt grass across a portion of their respective ranges but is readily distinguished, as its name implies, by more of the soft, straight hairs on its grayish foliage. Its vernal-pool habitat is highly threatened by livestock grazing. Vernal pool ecosystems across California are fragmented by development for agricultural and urban uses, while global warming threatens to dry up the pools that remain.
Hermes copper butterfly (Lycaena hermes)
Range: From the vicinity of Fallbrook in northern San Diego County south to near Santo Tomás in Baja California, Mexico
The Hermes copper lays it eggs on a single host plant — the spiny redberry — and depends on this plant for survival. Unfortunately, rampant urban development in the Hermes’ habitat in San Diego County has resulted in large-scale habitat loss and the overly frequent ignition of fire in the Hermes’ coastal sage scrub and chaparral habitat, putting an end to the tenuous existence of many remaining populations. Warming temperatures and decreasing rainfall due to climate change will likely shift suitable habitat for the Hermes copper northward and upward in elevation. Due to urban development and habitat fragmentation, the Hermes copper and its host plant may not be able to shift into new areas as climate conditions change.

The Center has gone to court to challenge the federal government’s denial of protection to the Hermes copper. We’re also working against the construction of Sunrise Powerlink, a high-voltage transmission line proposed to run through Hermes copper habitat.
Hidden Lake bluecurls (Trichostema austromontanus ssp. Compactum)
Range: Hidden Lake in San Jacinto Mountains, California
Hidden Lakes bluecurls are known to exist in just one location — Hidden Lake, a shallow, seasonal lake at an elevation of about 8,700 feet in Mount San Jacinto State Park Wilderness in Riverside County, California. Hidden Lake is the only naturally occurring body of water in this isolated mountain range. Hidden Lake bluecurls germinate and grow around the moist edges of the lake, which is fed by snowmelt runoff filling a glacial depression. Decreases in California snowpack and increasing drought conditions threaten to dry up this lake and cause the extinction of this very rare species.

To protect rare Southern California plants from extinction and promote their recovery, the Center for Biological Diversity and the California Native Plant Society filed a lawsuit to compel designation of critical habitat for six extremely rare plant species, including the Hidden Lakes bluecurls.
Hoover’s spurge (Chamaesyce hooveri)
Range: Northeastern Sacramento Valley
Hoover's spurge is also known as Hoover’s sanmat. Its flower petal-like glands range in color from red to olive, with blooms appearing in July. Hoover's spurge grows in relatively large, deep vernal pools at the base of the Sierra Nevada foothills. Vernal pool species like the Hoover’s spurge are threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation from urbanization, agricultural conversion, and mining. Today, global warming threatens to dry up the remaining but shrinking vernal pool ecosystems of California that this plant needs to survive.
Human being (Homo sapiens)
Range: Global
Homo sapiens, the Latin name for the modern human species, means “wise man.” Modern humans evolved in east Africa about 200,000 years ago. As of 2009, there are more than 6.8 billion of us on Earth. Humans have a highly developed brain, capable of abstract reasoning, language, introspection and problem solving, but can they put these qualities to use when it comes to the man-made challenge posed by global warming?

Health and climate scientists believe that global warming is already responsible for some 150,000 deaths each year, and they fear that the number may well double by 2030. Global warming also contributes to some 5 million human illnesses every year. Some of the ways global warming negatively affects human health — especially in poorer nations — include: speeding the spread of infectious diseases, such as malaria and dengue fever; creating conditions that lead to potentially fatal malnutrition and diarrhea; and increasing the frequency and severity of heat waves, floods, and other weather-related disasters. Studies have also found a direct link between rising levels of CO2 in the atmosphere and increased human mortality. Added air pollution caused by each degree Celsius increase in temperature caused by CO2 leads to about 1,000 additional deaths in the United States and many more cases of respiratory illness and asthma.
Humboldt squid (Dosidicus gigas)
Range: Tierra del Fuego, Argentine Patagonia, north to California
The Humboldt is an intelligent, adaptable, and highly successful predator. Normally found in very deep waters in the eastern Pacific Ocean, the Humboldt can reach lengths of up to seven feet and can weigh as much as 100 pounds. But climate change may radically alter the Humboldt’s range: As ocean waters have warmed, the squid has expanded northward and has recently been found as far north as Alaska. Making matters worse, scientists have found that rising ocean acidification will significantly depress the metabolic rates and activity levels of this jumbo squid — an effect that will only be exacerbated by higher water temperatures. Further, an increase in oxygen-depleted areas of the ocean may compress the habitable depth range of the species.
Inyo California towhee (Pipilio crissalis eremophilus)
Range: eastern California
Though it doesn’t boast fancy plumage, the grayish-brown, sparrow-like Inyo California towhee is remarkable for its tenacity. Despite the population’s limited range and complete isolation from other towhees, its numbers have gone from about 100 to 700-plus individuals in the past two decades — thanks largely to the Endangered Species Act, under which it was listed as threatened and given critical habitat in 1987. Global warming however threatens to reverse this hopeful story by altering the towhee’s desert habitat. Inyo California towhees nest and forage in areas of dense riparian vegetation. Changes in precipitation including increases in drought conditions combined with human overuse of groundwater threaten its riparian habitat.

In 2001, the Center reached a landmark settlement in which the Bureau of Land Management agreed to mining prohibitions, grazing restrictions, off-road vehicle restrictions, road closures, and other conservation measures to protect towhee habitat.
Jaguar (Panthera onca)
Range: North from Argentina to the U.S.-Mexico borderlands
Revered as deities amongst the Mayan and Aztec peoples, jaguars once roamed from South America through the southern and central United States. But they were reduced through Spanish bounties and fur hunting, and the last U.S. animals were systematically hunted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the 20th century, only to reappear sporadically through migration from Mexico. As global climate trends move toward hotter, drier environments, jaguars’ recovery in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands may become even more important to the survival of the whole species as climate change pushes the animals northward.

The Center sued three times to obtain a recovery plan and critical habitat designation for the jaguar; has defended it from government traps, snares, and poisons; and opposed walling off the U.S.-Mexico border to ensure that jaguars have access to the full extent of their range. In March 2009, a judge struck down the Fish and Wildlife Service’s refusal to grant the jaguar a recovery plan and protected habitat.
Laguna Mountains skipper (Pyrgus ruralis lagunae)
Range: High-elevation areas in Southern California‘s Cleveland National Forest
The Laguna Mountains skipper is a small, black and white checkered endangered butterfly with a fast, erratic flight pattern. It‘s found only in Southern California, at high elevations — approximately 4,000 to 6,000 feet. With a single larval host plant, Cleveland’s horkelia, the Laguna Mountains skipper has experienced a dramatic population decline mostly due to habitat destruction. Additionally, dry seasons have brought a decline in the larval host plant, leading to a parallel decline in the Laguna Mountains skipper population. Due to their small population size, their limited high-elevation habitat, and the vulnerability of their sole host plant to drought, global warming poses a grave threat to Laguna Mountains skippers.

After the Center filed suit to earn critical habitat for the Laguna Mountains skipper, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated approximately 6,242 acres for the butterfly.
Lane Mountain milk vetch (Astragalus jaegerianus)
Range: Southeastern California
Found at only four sites in the Mojave Desert in southeastern California, the Lane Mountain milk vetch is a wispy perennial that grows on coarse soils and often can be found growing intertwined among the branches of other shrubs for support. It has the remarkable ability to survive for years underground, subsisting on what little moisture its taproot can soak up. Because of its extremely limited distribution in such a harsh environment, the Lane Mountain milk vetch is particularly vulnerable to local extirpation. The higher temperatures and increased risk of drought events due to global climate change would increase the threats to the plant.

The Center filed a lawsuit that successfully forced the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the Lane Mountain milk vetch under the Endangered Species Act. In 2008 the Service recommended downlisting it from endangered to threatened, despite the fact that only four populations of the plant exist on the planet.
Least Bell’s vireo (Vireo bellii pusillus)
Range: Santa Barbara and San Diego counties, California
A shy, secretive, and silver-tongued songbird, the tenacious least Bell’s vireo has been to the brink of extinction and back in recent decades. Although it is federally protected and there has been an important surge in the least Bell’s vireo population in Southern California, the bird remains susceptible to habitat destruction from urban development, overgrazing, and electric power lines. And now the bird’s riparian habitat is also threatened by global warming. Perhaps most notably, global warming is altering the snowpack that feeds the rivers in this little bird’s already degraded home.

In response to a Center lawsuit, in spring 2008 the Army Corps of Engineers revoked authorization for the ill-conceived Shadowrock luxury hotel and golf development in important least Bell’s vireo habitat. The Center is also working to stop harmful transmission-line projects from degrading the bird’s habitat and increasing the risk of fire in delicate California ecosystems.
Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta)
Range: Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans
Loggerhead sea turtles make some of the longest known journeys of any sea turtle species, each year migrating more than 7,500 miles between nesting beaches in Japan and feeding grounds off the coast of Mexico. Along the way, they must navigate past millions of longline hooks, which catch and kill thousands of sea turtles, seabirds, marine mammals, and sharks. Gillnet fisheries likewise entangle and drown many loggerheads. Making matters much worse, rising sea levels due to global warming threaten to destroy Florida’s nesting beaches, and rising temperatures could dramatically tilt the balance of male and female turtles being hatched, endangering the species’ reproductive abilities. This is because turtles’ gender is determined by temperature; in warmer weather, there are fewer males born, and with a temperature just two degrees higher than 29 degrees Celsius, almost all hatchlings are females.

The Center has repeatedly litigated to curtail commercial fishing practices harming the loggerhead. Following one lawsuit, longline fishing for swordfish was prohibited along the West Coast. In 2007, we petitioned to list North Pacific loggerhead sea turtles as endangered, as well as to increase protections in key nesting habitat.
Longfin smelt (Spirinchus thaleichthys)
Range: Estuaries along the Pacific Coast, from San Francisco Bay to Alaska
Longfin smelt were once one of the most abundant open-water fishes in the San Francisco Bay Estuary — commercially important fish, key to the Bay food web. Today the species’ numbers have plummeted to record lows in the Bay-Delta, and it’s nearing extinction in other northern California estuaries. Thanks to poor management of California’s largest estuary ecosystem, which has allowed excessive water diversions and reduced freshwater flow into the Bay, the longfin smelt has undergone two catastrophic declines in just 20 years. Among the threats to the little fish posed by global warming are warming waters, sea-level rise and accompanying salinity intrusion, changes in timing and amounts of freshwater inflow, and increased frequency and intensity of floods.

In 2007, the Center and allies petitioned for state endangered species protection for the longfin smelt. In 2009, the California Fish and Game Commission voted to declare the smelt threatened.
Marbled murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus)
Range: Pacific Coast of North America from the Aleutian Archipelago and southern Alaska to central California
In 1974, the marbled murrelet — the “enigma of the Pacific” — won the distinction of being the last bird species in the United States to have its nesting site discovered. Rather than building a nest, this seabird travels inland as much as 50 miles to lay a single egg high in the old-growth forest canopy, which it depends on for survival. Climate change threatens the murrelet’s terrestrial nesting and marine feeding habitats. Forest growth is expected to decrease over the long term as temperatures increase and trees can no longer benefit from increased winter precipitation and longer growing seasons. Forest ecosystems will also be altered by increases in extreme flooding, landslides, and windthrow events, as well as by changes in fire regimes and drought. The murrelet’s marine habitat is at risk due to global warming’s potential to exacerbate harmful algal blooms, dead zones, and food availability and quality.

In 2008, the Center succeeded in halting a timber-industry attack on the bird’s Endangered Species Act status.ction
Mexican flannelbush (Fremontodendron mexicanum)
Range: northern Baja California and southern San Diego County, California
Mexican flannelbush is so rare that fewer than 100 individual shrubs are known to exist at just two occurrences in northern Baja California and adjacent San Diego County in southwestern California, at Otay Mountain. Mexican flannelbush grows in chaparral and coniferous forests among, generally on alluvial plains. It gets its name from its leathery, furry leaves. Because of its extremely limited distribution, the Mexican flannelbush is particularly vulnerable to local extirpation. Being specific to dry chaparral and coniferous forest at the edge of urban San Diego makes the Mexican flannelbush vulnerable to increased fire threat caused by warming-driven changes in precipitation.

This species was federally listed as endangered in 1998. In 2004, the Center and the California Native Plant Society sued to seek critical habitat designation for the flannelbush and other threatened plant species.
Mono Basin sage grouse (Centrocercus urophaianus)
Range: From Storey County, Nevada to Inyo County, California
Every spring, male sage grouse gather to strut their stuff in riveting mating rituals. But sage grouse “leks,” or mating grounds, are becoming less and less lively as habitat dwindles and numbers decline — especially in the Mono Basin area, where an isolated, genetically distinct population of sage grouse is holding on by a thread. Because drought conditions result in decreased sage grouse nest success, increased drought severity would likely lower this species’ success in raising its young. Increasingly warmer and drier climate conditions are predicted to lower sagebrush habitat quality, enhance invasive plant invasions, and alter fire frequency.

After years of Center litigation, in April 2008 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it would consider the bird for Endangered Species Act listing.
Northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina)
Range: From southwestern British Columbia through the Cascade Mountains, coastal ranges, and intervening forested lands of Washington, Oregon, and California
A popular symbol of the decline of Northwest forests, the medium-sized, chocolaty brown northern spotted owl depends on the old-growth forests that once stretched in an unbroken ribbon from Alaska to California — forests that are now a ghostly memory of their former selves. As an avian icon, curious and vocal, this owl is an excellent indicator of the health of these forests and the hundreds of species that depend on them. But the Pacific Northwest’s spotted owl habitat will be affected by climate change and its accompanying increases in extreme flooding, landslides and windthrow events, and changes in fire regimes and drought.

The Center has defended this owl at every twist and turn, submitting comments in opposition to the Western Oregon Plan Revision and intervening in a timber-industry lawsuit that sought a reduction of the owl’s critical habitat. We also took the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to court over an Oregon Department of Forestry logging plan in the Elliott State Forest, an area that provides crucial habitat for the northern spotted owl.
Pacific lamprey (Lampetra tridentate)
Range: Pacific Rim from Japan through Alaska, North American Pacific Coast to Baja California, Mexico
Ancient, jawless fish, lampreys superficially resemble eels but aren’t related to them. They have an anadromous life cycle (migrating to freshwater for spawning), similar to salmon and steelhead trout. Large concentrations of adult and larval lampreys were once an important and dependable high-fat food source for many birds, fish, and mammals along the Pacific Coast and acted as a buffer to reduce predation on migrating adult salmon. Like salmon, lampreys play a key ecological role transporting nutrients like nitrogen to freshwater ecosystems. Because the survival of Pacific lamprey larvae is sensitive to temperature, and larvae appear to have a little tolerance for high temperatures, rising stream temperatures from global warming may threaten Pacific lamprey populations. Increases in extreme rainfall events and flooding may also scour or eliminate the gravel beds that lamprey need for spawning.

Alarmed by severe declines of Pacific lamprey in many rivers, the Center joined a coalition in petitioning for Endangered Species Act protection for the Pacific lamprey, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service eventually denied listing.
Pacific pocket mouse (Perognathus longimembris pacificus)
Range: California
The critically imperiled Pacific pocket mouse was feared extinct for nearly 20 years before the species was “rediscovered” in 1993. In winter, if environmental factors become unfavorable, the Pacific pocket mouse may hibernate underground until spring brings better conditions. But if adequate food supplies are available, the mouse will remain active during winter. Climate change may further tip the balance toward extinction for this species. The Pacific pocket mouse often doesn’t reproduce in years with below-average precipitation, making projected increases in drought a threat.

In 2000, the Center, Endangered Habitats League, and the National Resources Defense Council petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect critical habitat for the pocket mouse.
Packard fairy shrimp (Branchinecta packardi)
Range: Cool to cold-water habitats at high elevations in isolated wetlands of northern and west-central New Mexico
Tiny and unusual, fairy shrimp are often found swimming in ephemeral pools of water in arid regions – an appropriately fleeting habitat for a creature with an average life span measured in weeks, if not days. Extremely rare, even for notoriously scarce fairy shrimp, Packard fairy shrimp are only found in a handful of short-lived, isolated wetlands at high elevations in northern and west-central New Mexico. This aquatic invertebrate is an important link in the food web and an indicator of the health of its ephemeral wetland home.

Increasingly frequent and severe drought projected for the Southwest threatens to dry up the short-lived wetlands that the Packard fairy shrimp needs to survive.
Paiute cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki seleniris)
Range: Silver King Creek in the Sierra Nevada Mountains
The Paiute cutthroat trout has been in trouble for a long time. It was first listed as endangered in 1967 under the Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1966 and reclassified as threatened in 1975 under the Endangered Species Act. And today, Paiute cutthroat trout aren’t found within their historic range. The long-term survival of current populations is uncertain due to hybridization with nonnative trout, the small size of populations, limited genetic diversity, and isolation. All life stages of this trout require cool, well-oxygenated waters, and pools are important habitat for juveniles. As cold-water habitats warm, rising temperatures caused by climate change will have negative impacts on all life phases of these fish — from eggs to juveniles to adults.
Parish’s daisy (Erigeron parishii)
Range: Southern California’s San Bernardino Mountains
Parish’s daisy is endemic to Southern California and is restricted to the dry, primarily limestone slopes of the San Bernardino Mountains. This has resulted in one of the biggest threats to its survival: limestone mining. The limestone it lives in has become valuable in recent years and many populations have been destroyed or damaged by limestone mining in its habitat. Because the Parish’s daisy is dependent on limestone, it can’t easily shift altitude to other soils to adjust to climate change. And drought, which is made more likely by global warming, urgently threatens species that already limited in population and geographic scope — like the Parish’s daisy.

In March 2000, the Center and allies filed suit against the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on behalf of dozens of endangered species that had been hurt by poor land management on the California Desert Conservation Area. Including the Parish’s daisy. Thanks to a series of sweeping settlement agreements, millions of acres in the area — including Parish’s daisy habitat — were protected from destructive human impacts like mining and grazing.
Peirson’s milk vetch (Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii)
Range: Algodones Dunes of Imperial County, California; also the sand dunes of Gran Desierto in Sonora, Mexico
In the United States, Peirson’s milk vetch is known only from the a narrow corridor in the Algodones Dunes of Southern California, where daytime temperatures often exceed 110 degrees Fahrenheit and annual precipitation rarely tops a scant 2.5 inches. With its oversized seeds and small leaves, Peirson’s milk vetch is well adapted for survival in the harsh conditions of blowing sand dunes. Large seeds ensure that germinated seedlings have enough nutrients to establish and survive, while small leaves conserve moisture in the dry desert heat. Although off-road vehicles are the primary threat to this plant, climate change and its potential for increased drought cycles are a significant concern. Consecutive years of drought can lead to low reproduction that could outlast the longevity of the seedbank, meaning that the affected populations could die out completely.

In 2000, the Center won a landmark legal settlement closing 48,000 acres of the Algodones Dunes to off-road vehicles. Unfortunately, in 2008, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service drastically cut the species’ federally protected habitat — so the Center filed suit.
Peninsular bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis cremnobates)
Range: California south into Baja California, Mexico
Peninsular bighorn sheep can get water from cacti, splitting the spiny barrel cactus with their horns and eating its watery insides. Up to 2 million bighorns roamed North America at the turn of the 20th century, but now only 70,000 remain. Peninsular bighorns, a so-called “distinct population segment” of these, number only in the hundreds. Still, their population has grown since they were federally protected. Researchers have linked population extinctions of Peninsular bighorns in California to higher temperatures and lower precipitation in lower-elevation mountains of its range. As California’s climate continues to warm and become drier, researchers predict that the probability of the bighorn’s extinction will increase significantly in the next 60 years.

Thanks to the Center, these bighorns currently lay claim to nearly 850,000 acres of critical habitat. In 2007, we scored a big victory for part of that habitat when we won an injunction preventing development-associated grading in California’s Chino Canyon.
Quino checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas editha quino)
Range: Riverside and San Diego counties, California, and scattered areas in Baja California, Mexico
Once one of the most common California butterflies, historically the Quino checkerspot butterfly numbered in the millions and could be found throughout California and Mexico. Habitat destruction and rapid climate change together have severely reduced this butterfly’s numbers. With increasing temperatures and drier conditions, the butterfly’s range has undergone a large-scale shift northward and upward in elevation, as populations have gone extinct in the southern 100 miles of the species’ range. Warmer temperatures and increasing drought conditions reduce butterfly growth rates and negatively affect host plants — lowering their density and their seasonal availability to butterflies.

The Quino checkerspot butterfly was listed as an endangered species in 1997 in response to a petition and lawsuit by the Center. In response to another Center lawsuit, 171,605 acres of critical habitat were designated for the butterfly in Riverside and San Diego counties in 2002. We’re also working to protect Quino checkerspot habitat on public lands in Southern California’s national forests.
Quitobaquito pupfish (Cyprinodon macularius)
Range: Organ Pipe National Monument in Arizona
The only known Quitobaquito pupfish in the world make their home in a half-acre pond in Arizona’s Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. Brightly colored but small (just five centimeters), pupfish feed on worms, insects, and zooplankton. Predation by nonnative species and sedimentation of water due to erosion of surrounding land are the prime culprits behind the pupfish’s decline. The construction of the nearby Mexican border fence is worsening the erosion. The Quitobaquito pupfish has been on the endangered species list since 1986. While this little fish can tolerate warm water, its half-acre pond could warm to unprecedented and dangerous levels if climate changes goes unchecked, or fall to dangerously low water levels with increasing drought conditions.

To help the Quitobaquito pupfish and other border species, the Center is working to ensure enforcement of environmental laws regarding border construction and activities, including the Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, and National Environmental Policy Act.
Ramshaw Meadows sand verbena (Abronia alpina)
Range: Ramshaw and Templeton meadows on Kern Plateau of California’s Sierra Nevada
Ramshaw Meadows sand verbena is a small, deeply rooted perennial in the four o'clock family known from just two populations — one in Ramshaw Meadow in the Sierra Nevada and one subpopulation in adjacent Templeton Meadow. The total estimated area this plant populates is just more than 15 acres.

Due to its extremely limited range, random events associated with a highly variable climate can pose a serious threat to the Ramshaw Meadows sand verbena. Moreover, this plant is slow to recover because it has limited reproductive and seed dispersal abilities, a short life span, and high annual fluctuation in population numbers.
Riverside fairy shrimp (Streptocephalus woottoni)
Range: California’s Ventura, Los Angeles, Riverside, Orange, and San Diego counties; and Baja California, Mexico
Though tiny and delicate looking, Riverside fairy shrimp are spectacularly adapted to living in seasonal vernal pool habitats, able to hatch, grow, breed, and lay eggs in a single wet season — usually only three to four months long. The Riverside fairy shrimp now remains in only 25 scattered, small populations thanks to human encroachment and development, and climate change threatens to irrevocably tip the scales against this hardy crustacean. Relatively small changes in the timing or amount of precipitation can affect fairy shrimp population dynamics. Drought-induced decreases in water depth and the period of flooding of vernal pools can increase the frequency at which pools dry before shrimp have completed their life cycle. Warming temperatures and low water levels can cause pool temperatures to more often exceed temperatures suitable for hatching and persistence of the species.

The Center filed suit in 1999 to force the Service to designate critical habitat for this invertebrate. In early 2009, we filed suit against the Bush administration over its appalling reduction in the fairy shrimp’s critical habitat.
Sacramento Mountains checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas anicia cloudcrofti)
Range: Endemic to Sacramento Mountains, New Mexico
The Sacramento Mountains checkerspot butterfly is a year-round resident of New Mexico’s Sacaramento Mountains’ high meadows. With only eight square miles of suitable habitat, the checkerspot is entirely dependent on the integrity of its ecosystem, an integrity that climate change threatens to permanently disrupt. As conditions become warmer and drier, the butterfly’s habitat may shift upward in elevation, threatening to leave the animal without any place to go. Climatic changes that lower the abundance of its host plant, the New Mexico penstemon, or alter the synchrony of the butterfly life cycle with these plants can have dire consequences.

Originally denied consideration for protection because under New Mexico state law insects are not recognized as wildlife, the Center is still working to secure formal protection and designation for the checkerspot after nearly 10 years of litigation.
Sacramento splittail (Pogonichthys macrolepidotus)
Range: Sacramento River delta, Suisun Bay, Suisun Marsh, and Napa Marsh
The Sacramento splittail is large for a minnow, regularly reaching lengths of over 12 inches as an adult. The splittail is also unusual for a North American minnow in that it makes dramatic annual spawning migrations. Like most freshwater minnows, the splittail relies on specific environmental conditions, conditions easily disrupted by climate change. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, long-term climate changes may significantly change the timing, duration, magnitude, and frequency of floodplain inundation with the splittail’s range, influencing future population trends.

The Sacramento splittail was originally listed as a threatened species in 1998 thanks to a Center petition and lawsuit. Unfortunately, in 2003 the Service removed the splittail from the threatened species list, despite a strong consensus by scientists within the agency that the species should retain its protected status. In 2009 the Center sued the Service to restore federal protection.
Salt marsh harvest mouse (Reithrodontomys raviventris)
Range: California’s San Francisco Bay marshes
The salt marsh harvest mouse is an endangered mouse found only in the salt marshes around San Francisco Bay. It’s protected due to its limited range, historic decline in population, continuing threats of development of its habitat, pollution, commercial salt harvesting, and a decrease in native plants. Facing all these challenges, this mouse is particularly resourceful. It uses the ground runways of other rodents, is an agile climber, and can drink saltwater (and sometimes even prefers it to fresh). But global warming brings yet another threat to this tiny rodent’s home. Rising sea levels threaten to inundate the mouse’s salt marsh habitats if they’re not allowed to move inland — which is likely, thanks to development and coastal armoring.

In July 2009, the Center settled a 2007 lawsuit filed against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requiring the agency to formally evaluate the harmful effects of 74 pesticides on nearly a dozen Bay Area species, including the salt marsh harvest mouse.
San Bernardino kangaroo rat (Dipodomys merriami parvus)
Range: San Bernardino and Riverside counties, California
The San Bernardino kangaroo rat is easily recognizable by its large feet and exceptionally long tail, both of which it uses in its preferred method of locomotion — hopping. Charming appearance aside, this kangaroo rat is truly a desert survivor, holding on despite having lost a staggering 95 percent of its original habit. Changing rainfall patterns and increasing drought due to climate change may threaten the rest. The amount and timing of rainfall in the k-rat’s arid home can strongly influence its population dynamics. More rainfall leads to a greater production of seeds — the kangaroo rats’ food — and to more green vegetation that females need to reproduce because of the water provided for lactation. Because the San Bernardino kangaroo rat’s habitat has been so severely fragmented, the remaining isolated populations are more vulnerable to extinction if rainfall patterns change for the worse.

In 1999, the Center sued to earn the k-rat 33, 295 acres of critical habitat. In October 2008, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service slashed critical habitat by a shocking 76 percent — so three months later, we sued again.
San Bernardino bluegrass (Poa atropurpurea)
Range: San Bernardino Mountains of Southern California
A rather innocuous, nonflowering grass, the San Bernardino bluegrass is a native component of a remaining Southern California high mountain meadow system — known from just 20 occurrences. Because of its extremely limited distribution, this plant is particularly vulnerable to extinction. Changes in precipitation and increased temperatures due to climate change threaten the hydrology and water tables on which the bluegrass depends, and the meadow system is very vulnerable to increased risk of fire.

This species was listed as endangered 1998. In 2004, the Center filed suit to compel the Bush administration to designate critical habitat for the plant; in response, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed protecting more than 3,000 acres of bluegrass habitat — but its final decision in 2008 slashed 500 acres from that number.
San Diego ambrosia (Ambrosia pumila)
Range: San Diego and Riverside counties in Southern California, Baja California, Mexico
A rare perennial herb in the sunflower family, San Diego ambrosia is found in dry, sandy soils and creek beds at just 15 low-elevation sites in southwestern California. Because of its extremely limited distribution, the San Diego ambrosia is particularly vulnerable to local extirpation. Many populations are threatened by increased risk of fire due to global warming, as well as to competition with invasive plants that thrive after fire disturbance and may expand under high-temperature conditions. Changes in precipitation and increased heat due to climate change can increase the stress on the ambrosia and change the hydrology of the streams where it grows.

Earning federal protection for the San Diego ambrosia required two petitions and two Center lawsuits. In 2007, we sued to force critical habitat designation, compelling the designation of 802 protected acres — unfortunately not enough for the plant to recover.
San Francisco lessingia (Lessingia germanorum)
Range
San Francisco lessingia is a low-growing, slender-stemmed annual flower in the sunflower family. It once occurred throughout San Francisco's vast dune system, where it grew in open, sandy areas that were created and maintained by a combination of dune “blowouts,” elk grazing, fire, and drought. Specific to the sandy soils of coastal dunes, this plant is now found at only seven sites in the San Francisco area. San Francisco lessingia is so rare today that a single random, catastrophic event could easily destroy most of the remaining individuals. Thus, its location along the coast makes it vulnerable to both sea-level rise and the increase in storms due to climate change.

In 1997, the Center notified the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that we’d sue the agency if it did not list 95 western species that had been proposed for federal protection but were languishing without a final decision. The San Francisco lessingia was listed as endangered that same year.
San Jacinto Valley crownscale (Atriplex coronata notatior)
Range: Western Riverside County, California
An unassuming small, scrubby plant, the San Jacinto crownscale is remarkable for its ability to convert soil salts into a kind of botanical sequin that causes the crownscale to shimmer in the sun. This plant is restricted to 11 populations in two drainage systems in Southern California, found on highly alkaline soils in low-elevation grasslands and scrub typically flooded by winter rains. Because of its extremely limited distribution, the crownscale is very vulnerable to local extirpations. Changes in precipitation and increased temperatures due to climate change threaten both to alter the plant communities with which the crownscale in associated, and to increase seasonal stresses on the crownscale.

Since the San Jacinto Valley crownscale was added to the endangered species list in 1998, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has refused to designate critical habitat for the plant or implement a recovery plan — even after a Center lawsuit. In October 2008, we sued again to earn needed habitat for the downtrodden plant.
San Joaquin kit fox (Vulpes macrotis mutica)
Range: Grasslands in California’s San Joaquin Valley as far south as Tejon Ranch and north to the eastern Bay Area counties
The smallest North American member of the dog family, the San Joaquin kit fox once ranged through San Joaquin. Today the population is sadly depleted, despite having been originally designated as endangered in 1967. Research indicates that more rainfall during the growing season in the fox’s arid home leads to more kit foxes two years later, presumably because the increased rainfall is good for the rodents and hares that the kit fox eats. Changes in precipitation patterns that reduce rainfall and increase drought may threaten this species. In addition to climate change, the kit fox also faces threats from agricultural pesticides and oil leasing in its few remaining habitats.

In 2007, the Center sued the Environmental Protection Agency for registering and allowing the use of 56 toxic pesticides in habitats for 11 Bay Area species, including the kit fox. In 2009, we filed a notice of intent to sue the Bureau of Land Management for approving a new oil and gas lease sale in sensitive kit fox habitat.
Santa Ana sucker (Catostomus santaanae)
Range: Southern California’s Santa Ana, San Gabriel, and Santa Clara rivers, as well as Big Tujunga Creek
Most of the pristine river habitat that the Santa Ana sucker needs to survive is located within the metropolitan Los Angeles area, making the fish an unintentional big-city dweller. Reduced to just a handful of populations, the sucker faces threats from water extraction, pollution, urban sprawl, and climate change. Reduced rainfall and more frequent and severe droughts in Southern California caused by climate change threaten the sucker’s remaining river habitat.

The Center has repeatedly engaged in litigation to compel the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to designate critical habitat for the Santa Ana sucker — which it has. We also won a big victory for the rare fish when we helped postpone construction of the Seven Oaks dam on the Santa Ana River.
Scott Bar salamander (Plethodon asupaki)
Range: Southwest Oregon and northwest California
The Scott Bar salamander has very particular habitat preferences — boulder fields in moss-covered, old-growth forests of the diverse Klamath-Siskiyou Mountains of California and Oregon, where salamanders can find moist conditions. The logging of old-growth trees in salamander habitat, along with the increasing risks of forest fire, mining, and construction, put the species at grave risk of extinction. And these salamanders prefer a cool, moist, and stable microclimate because they breathe through their skin — so climate change is another big threat. Besides disrupting their ecosystem’s microclimate, warming temperatures may shorten the window in which this salamander is able to look for food and reproduce. Unlike more mobile species, this salamander won’t simply be able to shift its range in response to rapid climate change.

The Center petitioned to protect the Scott Bar salamander under the Endangered Species Act in 2004, but while the U.S. Fish and Wildlife initially found protection warranted, it denied the species listing in 2008.
Sea otter (Enhydra lutris)
Range: California, Washington, Canada, Alaska, Russia, and Japan
Nearly hunted to extinction for their thick, luxurious pelts, sea otters have been slow to recover from initial overexploitation. Along the California, Washington, and Alaskan coasts, they can be seen floating on their backs and eating clams, sea urchins, and abalone — using their chests as a dining table. But the acidification of the coastal ocean threatens the otter’s food supply. Researchers have found that acidic waters are already upwelling along the West Coast of the United States in the otter’s coastal home. Increasingly corrosive waters make it more difficult for the marine invertebrates that are mainstay of the otter’s diet to form their shells.

The Center has won several important lawsuits on behalf of the otters, including a suit that effectively banned gillnet fishing in Monterey Bay and another that provided a critical habitat designation of 5,855 square miles.
Short-tailed albatross (Phoebastria albatrus)
Range: Nest on Torishima and Minami-kojima in Japan’s Senkaku Islands; range across North in nonbreeding season
The short-tailed albatross was possibly once the most abundant of the three North Pacific albatrosses. Millions of these seabirds were killed for their feathers and eggs until they disappeared completely from their breeding islands and were thought to be extinct in 1949. However, a few birds survived at sea, and thanks to protections, there are about 2,000 today. The future of this species is still precarious, since the majority of the world’s population nests on an active volcano — Torishima Island — and birds face drowning in longline fisheries at sea.

Climate change poses additional challenges. The warming of the North Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea may reduce its food availability. An increase in the frequency or severity of typhoons threatens its ability to raise its chicks. Short-tailed albatross breeding success is low in years with large typhoons because heavy rains falling on the steep volcanic slopes where the birds nest cause mud slides that destroy nests and kill chicks.
Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis sierrae)
Range: Sierra Nevada Mountains
The only mountain-scaling ovine in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, this bighorn sheep has long been an iconic symbol of Western wilderness. It’s also an Endangered Species Act success story, with populations slowly increasing — though climate change may put a stop to that. The alpine and subalpine meadows in which the bighorns browse in summer and fall are projected to decline due to climate change. Meadows will shrink as treelines move upward and invade. And rising summer temperatures, along with increasing summer dryness in the Sierra Nevada, may lead to the early desiccation of meadow plants, lowering their nutrient value for the bighorn.

In 2005, the Center sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to force critical habitat designation, and in August 2008, the Service designated a total of more than 400,000 acres. Still, the agency failed to protect the bighorn adequately from potentially dangerous disease transmission, so the Center warned of another suit in 2009.
Sierra Nevada mountain yellow-legged frog (Rana muscosa)
Range: Sierra Nevada of California and Nevada
Once the most abundant amphibian in the Sierra Nevada, this hardy frog is now extinct in more than 93 percent of its original range. Primarily decimated by the introduction of nonnative predator fish to its high-elevation pond and lake homes, the yellow-legged frog will also undoubtedly be impacted by climate change. Yellow-legged frogs remain in the tadpole stage for three to four years, which means that they need lakes and ponds that don’t dry up in the summer and that are deep enough not to freeze through in winter. Healthy mountain snowpack is essential because it provides a supply of water in spring and summer that keeps the frog’s ponds from drying up or freezing. However, climate change has been rapidly reducing the snowpack in the frog’s Sierra Nevada home.

In response to Center litigation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife determined that the yellow-legged frog is indeed endangered, but the species has yet to receive Endangered Species Act protection.
Siskiyou Mountains salamander (Plethodon stormi)
Range: Siskiyou Mountains in northwest California and southwest Oregon
Like the Scott Bar salamander, which shares the same small range as the Siskiyou salamander, this salamander once enjoyed non-species-specific protection under a “look-before-you-leap” forest management plan. Unfortunately, Bush-era protection repeals have left this little salamander in dire straights, with climate change posing a central threat. This salamander prefers a cool, moist, and stable microclimate because it breathes through its skin. Warming temperatures may shorten the window in which this salamander is able to look for food and reproduce. Unlike more mobile species, this salamander won’t simply be able to shift its range in response to rapid climate change.

The Center petitioned to protect the Siskiyou Mountains salamander under the Endangered Species Act in 2004, but while the U.S. Fish and Wildlife initially found protection warranted, it denied the species listing in 2008.
Smith's blue butterfly (Euphilotes enoptes smithi)
Range: Monterey, San Mateo, and Santa Cruz counties, California
A highly specialized creature, the Smith’s blue butterfly spends its entire life on or near coastal dunes within a few hundred yards of the seacliff and coast buckwheat — the host plant on which it lays its eggs. The Smith’s blue’s restricted range and dependence on just a few plants make it extremely vulnerable to climate change. Climatic changes that lower the abundance of its host plants or alter the synchrony of the butterfly life cycle with these plants can have dire consequences.

The Center has worked tirelessly to rectify severe mismanagement of this species, lobbying particularly effectively for protections of Los Padres National Forest – key blue butterfly habitat. Since 2001, we’ve filed numerous appeals and threatened legal action to rein in illegal livestock grazing on public land in Big Sur, forcing the Forest Service to suspend grazing on thousands of acres and refrain from increasing grazing on eight federal allotments in Smith’s blue habitat.
Sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka)
Range: Pacific Ocean and coastal streams
Sockeye salmon, also known as “red” or “blueback” salmon, live a dual existence between freshwater streams and the ocean. Sockeye salmon hatch in freshwater streams where they may live for up to four years before migrating to sea as silvery smolt weighing only a few ounces. They grow quickly in the sea, usually reaching four to eight pounds after one to four years. Mature sockeye salmon travel thousands of miles from ocean feeding areas to spawn in the same freshwater system they were born in. Little is known about how they navigate.

Climate change affects sockeye salmon in several important ways. As rivers get warmer, the survival rate of cold-water salmon migrating upstream to spawn is expected to plummet. Flooding events in the streams where sockeye spawn could wash eggs from the gravel beds where they’re laid. A recent study found that prolonged ocean warming could greatly restrict the ocean foraging areas of sockeye salmon.
Solano grass (Tuctoria mucronata)
Range: California
Solano grass is a small annual in the grass family that produces stems and leaves covered with small droplets of sticky, acrid secretion which is characteristic of its genus, Tuctoria. This species blooms from April to July. It’s restricted to alkaline vernal pool ecosystems that have sodium or boron salt affected soils or similar salt affected areas in alkaline playas. Seeds germinate in the very shallow pools as they dry in late spring. Solano grass was last seen in its original location — Olcott Lake, California — in 1993, when four individual plants were present. In 2000, several thousand plants were found on a former U.S. Air Force base communication facility.

Because global warming threatens to dry the vernal pools Solano grass needs to survive, this plant is threatened by climate change.
Southern California steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss)
Range: From San Luis Obispo County, California to the U.S.-Mexico border
The Southern California steelhead is a type of rainbow trout, unusual in the sense that it spends a great deal of its life in ocean waters before returning inland to freshwater streams to spawn. An estimated 30,000 to 50,000 steelhead once spawned in Southern California rivers, but the recent runs in four major river systems were made by fewer than 500 adults total. The fish faces a number of manmade threats, with climate change paramount amongst them. Rising water temperatures caused by global warming could make the Southern California steelhead’s remaining river habitat uninhabitable. Due to altered rainfall and decreased snowpack, changes in timing and amounts of rivers flows, including increased flooding events, could scour away the gravel the steelhead needs for spawning, and with it the steelhead’s eggs.

Advocating on behalf of this unique species, the Center has repeatedly litigated to improve and uphold Endangered Species Act protections for the steelhead. We’ve also filed suit to earn the fish critical habitat and work hard to protect its home in Southern California’s four national forests.
Southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus)
Range: Breeds in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, and Utah; winters from southern Mexico to northern South America
The southwestern willow flycatcher enjoys the distinction of being one of the few songbirds born with an innate, not learned, repertoire of songs. Unfortunately, despite more than a decade of federal protection, this species is still direly imperiled by habitat destruction and global warming. The flycatcher’s breeding habitat is intimately linked with water. It nests in dense riparian habitats along rivers, streams, or other wetlands where the water table is high enough to support riparian vegetation. Thus, decreases in precipitation that threaten riparian habitats also threaten this species.

The flycatcher was one of the first species the Center championed. After a Center petition and years of litigation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared the flycatcher endangered in 1995. After the flycatcher’s critical habitat was slashed due to a politically motivated decision, in 2008 we sued the Bush administration to force it to restore the habitat protections the flycatcher needs. In 2009, we went to court again over a plan allowing an imported beetle to hurt flycatcher habitat.
Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus)
Range: North Pacific Ocean coasts, ranging on the Pacific Rim from California to northern Japan
Steller’s sea lions were hunted for their meat and skin by prehistoric communities everywhere their range intersected with humans. Among pinnipeds, this sea lion is inferior in size only to the walrus and the two elephant seals. The species is named for naturalist Georg Wilhelm Steller, who first described them in 1741. The Steller sea lion has attracted considerable attention in recent decades due to significant, unexplained declines in the animal’s numbers over a large portion of its range in Alaska. Increases in ocean temperatures are having profound impacts on Arctic and sub-Arctic marine ecosystems inhabited by the Steller sea lion. Warmer waters are changing the productivity and community structure of forage fish. Sea-level rise will directly affect terrestrial rookery and haul-out sites currently used by Steller sea lions.
Stephen’s kangaroo rat (Dipodomys stephensi)
Range: Riverside and San Diego counties, California
The Stephen’s kangaroo rat can be glimpsed at night hopping through arid grasslands and searching for seeds, which it can store in large cheek pouches. During the day, its takes refuge in burrows that are cooler and more humid than the surrounding desert. Habitat loss has claimed 95 percent of this species’s original habit, and changing rainfall patterns and increasing drought due to climate change may threaten the rest. Stephen’s kangaroo rat populations fluctuate with the amount and timing of rainfall. More rainfall leads to a greater production of seeds — the kangaroo rats’ food — and to more green vegetation that females need to reproduce because of the water provided for lactation. Because this rat’s habitat has been so severely fragmented,its remaining isolated populations are more vulnerable to extinction if rainfall patterns change for the worse.

The Center and allies filed suit to challenge the planned conversion of the March Stephen’s Kangaroo Rat Preserve to industrial development, which would further endanger the Stephens’ kangaroo rat and harm other imperiled species.
Thorne's hairstreak butterfly (Callophrys [Mitoura] thornei)
Range: Otay Mountain in southern San Diego County, California
Originally described as a unique species in 1983, the Thorne’s hairstreak butterfly has hovered precariously close to extinction ever since then. The hairstreak lives in chaparral ecosystems of Southern California and northern Baja California, which are vulnerable to overly frequent wildfires caused by people. It’s estimated that one unlucky fire could extinguish the species forever. Butterflies are particularly sensitive to small changes in moisture and temperature; warming temperatures and reduced rainfall in its range could disrupt the synchrony of the butterfly’s lifecycle with its host plant. Climate change may also increase fire risk in chaparral habitats.

Despite clear evidence that hairstreak populations have been declining for decades, federal authorities have continuously refused to grant the species federal protection. The Center has petitioned and filed two lawsuits in an effort to gain protection for the Thorne’s hairstreak, and we’re currently involved in litigation to put it on the endangered species list.
Tricolored blackbird (Agelaius tricolor)
Range: California, infrequently in Oregon, Nevada, and Washington
The tricolored blackbird forms the largest breeding colonies of any North American land bird, with each colony numbering in the tens of thousands. It prefers wetland and grassland habitats and selectively nests in native emergent marshes, agricultural fields, and other flooded and upland habitats. Decreases in rainfall threaten to further reduce the wetland areas the blackbird relies on for nesting.

The Center petitioned to list the tricolored blackbird in 2004. After we sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remind it of its obligations, in late 2006 the agency completed its review of the listing petition — only to declare it inadequate in showing the bird’s need for federal protection. The Center continues to advocate for the protection of both the tricolored blackbird and its habitat.
Unarmored threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus williamsoni)
Range: Los Angeles and Santa Barbara counties, California
The unarmored threespine stickleback male plays Mr. Mom by not only building a nest but also caring for eggs and young fry. The tiny fish needs clear, flowing, well-oxygenated water with pools and eddies and areas of dense vegetation. Limited to only a few spots in the Los Angeles basin watershed, the stickleback is threatened by changes in water flows that alter the quality of the few habitat patches it has left.

The Center filed suit in 2002 to earn critical habitat for the unarmored threespine stickleback. We also helped oppose a large mine proposed by Cemex in the Santa Clara watershed, bringing new attention to the plight of the river and its dependent wildlife, like the stickleback. We continue to watchdog development on the river and advocate for the fish through our work to protect Southern California watersheds.
Vernal pool fairy shrimp (Branchinecta lynchi)
Range: California and Agate Desert of southern Oregon
Though tiny and delicate looking, fairy shrimp are spectacularly adapted to living in vernal pool habitats. But what happens when the fairy shrimp’s unique home turf is paved over, farmed on, or churned up by vehicles’ wheels? Now, with just 25 suitable vernal pool complexes left on the planet, even this tough little crustacean can’t withstand human impacts much longer. With the looming threat of climate change and decreased rainfall, not only the shrimp but a suite of rare vernal pool species — as well as vernal pools themselves — could slip into extinction. Relatively small changes in the timing or amount of precipitation can affect fairy shrimp population dynamics. Drought-induced decreases in water depth and the period of inundation of vernal pools can increase the frequency at which pools dry before shrimp have completed their life cycle. Warming temperatures and low water levels can cause pool temperatures to more often exceed temperatures suitable for hatching and the persistence of the species.

The Center has been working to save the Riverside fairy shrimp since 1997, when we and allies stopped a massive development planned for one of Los Angeles’ last remaining wetlands. We also filed suit in 1999 to force the Service to designate critical habitat. And in early 2009, we filed suit against the Bush administration over its appalling reduction in the fairy shrimp’s critical habitat.
Vernal pool tadpole shrimp (Lepidurus packardi)
Range: Vernal pools of central California, notably Sacramento
This tadpole shrimp depends on vernal pool ecosystems throughout California’s central valley. The alien-like crustacean is perfectly adapted to temporary pools that form as water collects after seasonal rains or snow melts, completing its life cycle in less than six months. The tadpole shrimp already contends with several manmade threats, including habitat destruction and extreme population fragmentation as a result of urban growth.

Warming temperatures and precipitation changes reduce the period of inundation that supports vernal pools, in turn threaten the tadpole shrimp and other species that depend on this ephemeral habitat for periods long enough to complete their life cycle.
Warner sucker (Catostomus warnerensis)
Range: Warner Basin of southeastern Oregon and northeastern Nevada
The Warner sucker is a strikingly colored suckerfish found only in the Warner Lake region of southeastern Oregon. Once widely distributed throughout the region, this sucker now survives in only a handful of lakes and steams. The near extinction of the Warner sucker is due to habitat degradation in the form of fragmentation, blockage of migratory paths, and introduction of predatory nonnative fishes.

Increasingly severe drought conditions due to climate change threaten this fish’s future. For example, a prolonged drought from 1987 to 1994 reduced stream habitat and desiccated the Warner Lakes, extirpating the resident Warner sucker population.
Western gull-billed tern (Gelochelidon nilotica vanrossemi)
Range: Pacific Coast and lower Colorado delta region of Southern California and Mexico
The western gull-billed tern is a misunderstood predator whose population is perilously low, a result of constant assault from habitat destruction and poor management policies. Global climate change threatens the western gull-billed terns in several ways: loss of its coastal habitat due to sea-level rise and higher storm surges, increased storm frequency, and decreased prey availability due to rising ocean temperatures.

We recently filed suit to get gull-billed tern listed as a protected species, and in the process stopped a U.S. Fish and Wildlife plan to destroy gull-billed tern eggs.
Western snowy plover (Charadrius alexandrinus nivosus)
Range: Washington, Oregon, California, and Mexico
A small, unobtrusive bird, the western snowy plover is a year-round beach citizen and an integral part of the Pacific beach ecosystem. Heedless of this shy, pocket-sized shorebird, developers have made the open sandy beaches it favors a prime target for destructive projects; also, people’s beach activity often scares plovers away from their nests, leaving chicks and eggs vulnerable to both predators and the elements. Now, sea-level rise and increased storm surge events threaten to inundate the plover’s coastal breeding and foraging habitat; degrade the quality of habitat for foraging, nesting, and cover; and alter the types and availability of prey species.

In October 2008, the Center sued the Department of the Interior to force it to grant the plover the critical habitat it needs. We’ve also worked against plover-killing off-road vehicle use, pushed for oil-drilling restrictions in key habitat, petitioned for dog-leash laws in the bird’s Golden Gate National Recreation Area home, and published a report detailing the devastating effects of pesticide use on plovers.
White abalone (Haliotis sorenseni)
Range: California’s Channel Islands
Despite being the first marine invertebrate listed as an endangered species, the white abalone has never recovered from its early overexploitation. The scattered individuals remaining are threatened by warming ocean temperatures and ocean acidification. Warmer water temperatures enhance the spread and virulence of a deadly abalone disease called withering syndrome, and may decrease the growth of kelp, a major food source for adults. Increasing ocean acidification and the upwelling of corrosive waters along the West Coast of the United States threaten to hinder the abalone in building its protective shell.

The white abalone was first listed under the Endangered Species Act thanks to a Center petition. We hope our efforts to stem climate change and ocean acidification will help preserve the remaining few specimens.
Willowy monardella (Monardella linoides)
Range: Coastal Southern California, concentrated in Miramar area of San Diego County
The willowy monardella makes its home in the chaparral and coastal sage scrub found in sandy, dry washes of coastal Southern California. There are only 11 known populations. This perennial flower in the mint family is known for its light pink to lavender flowers, which bloom as late in the season as November. Willowy monardella is besieged by urban development, mining activity, and erosion. It’s uncertain how climate change may affect the flood patterns, stream flows, and water tables on which willowy monardello depends, and almost every population is vulnerable to the increased risk of fire in the coastal chaparral.

The willowy monardella was listed as endangered 1998. The Center is currently involved in a legal challenge to expand the plant’s inadequate critical habitat designation — an expansion the species sorely needs.
Xantus's murrelet (Synthliboramphus hypoleucus)
Range: Southern California coast to central Baja California, Mexico
Xantus’s murrelet is one of the rarest seabirds in the world, restricted to a handful of nesting islands off Southern California and Baja California. The introduction of nonnative predators to its island breeding homes decimated many populations. Increasing ocean temperatures, more intense El Niño events, and ocean acidification in the California Current marine ecosystem, which the murrelet calls home, threaten the food web the species depends on.

The Center was part of a coalition that successfully prevented a Chevron liquid natural gas terminal from opening near critical Xantus’s murrelet breeding grounds in Mexico.
Yellow-billed cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus)
Range: Southern Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas; western yellow-billed cuckoo found west of mountain ranges forming eastern edge of the Rio Grande watershed
The yellow-billed cuckoo is a rare bird that has been almost entirely eradicated west of the Continental Divide. With as few as 40 breeding pairs remaining in California, the species is dangerously close to extinction. Climate change could well be the catalyst that pushes the yellow-billed cuckoo into oblivion. Western yellow-billed cuckoos require large patches (ideally 25 to 100 acres) of streamside willows and cottonwoods. Decreases in precipitation that threaten riparian habitats also threaten this species.

In 1998, the Center filed a scientific petition to earn endangered species protection for the cuckoo, which helped fund research into the genetic characteristics of the species — ultimately leading to a Fish and Wildlife Service determination that western cuckoos should be treated as a “distinct population segment.” In 2000, the Center and allies filed a suit to force a listing decision, and the next year the Service determined the cuckoo’s listing was “warranted but precluded” — meaning the bird’s federal protection would be put off.
Yosemite toad (Bufo canorus)
Range: Central Sierra Nevada, California
The Yosemite toad was once one of the most plentiful of Sierra Nevada amphibians, but today it can only be found in very limited numbers. Even populations located within the protected and relatively pristine Yosemite National Park area have collapsed. Pesticides that drift from California’s vast agricultural areas have been blamed for these deaths, but climate change is also poised to take a toll, because the toad’s breeding cycle is tied to the Sierra snowpack. As the snow melts, males and females make their way to shallow pools fed by the gradually melting snow, where the toads lay their eggs and tadpoles develop. Due to decreased Sierra snowpack, earlier spring runoff, and lower summer flows resulting from climate change, the shallow pools and wet meadows used by the toad may dry up earlier in summer. Some researchers believe that lower-elevation habitats may already be drying and becoming less suitable for toads.

The Yosemite toad was declared deserving of Endangered Species Act protection thanks to a Center petition, but it’s still awaiting that protection.