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CENTRAL SPECIES THAT NEED US TO GET TO 350 Photo credits
Arkansas River shiner (Notropis girardi)
Range: New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas
The tiny, shiny Arkansas River shiner requires at least 80 miles of river to complete its life cycle — and has disappeared from more than 80 percent of its historical habitat. Besides habitat destruction, water-quality degradation, and other threats, this finger-sized fish is threatened by drought and increased water temperatures driven by global warming.

A Center lawsuit earned this fish a place on the threatened species list in 1998; more Center legal action led to the designation of 1,148 river miles of protected critical habitat for the species in 2005. When that protected habitat was cut in half, we sued again in January 2009 to make sure the shiner has enough protected area to survive and recover.
Black-capped vireo (Vireo atricapilla)
Range: Oklahoma south through Edwards Plateau and Big Bend National Park, Texas, to central Coahuila, Mexico
The small black-capped vireo has been listed as an endangered species in the United States since 1987. Males generally court females with displays and calls. The male songbird cares for some or all of the fledglings, while the female may nest again — sometimes with another male. These birds are insectivorous, relying on a diet made up largely of beetles and caterpillars. Among the threats facing the black-capped vireo: parasitism by brown-headed cowbirds, loss of habitat, and now global warming. Warmer and drier conditions in the Southwest could further reduce habitat for this species, especially if suitable conditions shift out of existing refuges.
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.
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.
Hines emerald dragonfly (Somatochlora hineana)
Range: A few sites scattered in Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, and Missouri
Renowned for its aerobatic virtuosity and electrifying, enormous green eyes, the Hine’s emerald dragonfly hovers on the brink of extinction and is one of the most endangered dragonflies in North America today. In 1995, the Hine’s emerald dragonfly became the only dragonfly on the endangered species list. Temperature affects important traits in dragonflies, including their developmental rate, the timing of important events like breeding, immune function, and the production of pigment for temperature regulation. Warming temperatures caused by climate change threaten to stress the Hine’s emerald by affecting these life-history traits and shifting the locations of habitat where the dragonfly can live.

In 2009, the Center reached a settlement requiring the government to reconsider protecting 13,000 acres of habitat for the Hine’s emerald.
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.
Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis)
Range: Midwestern, southern, and eastern United States, from the Ozarks to Vermont and from northern Florida to southern Wisconsin
The Indiana bat is one of the rarest and most vulnerable of its kind. Every year, Indiana bats gather in “swarms” at chosen hibernating spots to mate, swooping in and out of caves from dusk till dawn. The species’ long-term decline began in the early 1800s as its wintering sites or “hibernacula” were disturbed by mining, tourism, and other activities. In the decades since, these bats have been hit hard by habitat loss — and in 2007 a perplexing and deadly new threat to bats, called white-nose syndrome, first appeared in the Northeast and began killing hundreds of thousands of the animals, including Indiana bats. Global warming could boost temperatures inside the limestone caves these bats use for roosting, contributing to winter weight loss and higher mortality rates for the bats.

After a January 2008 Center petition, the Forest Service closed all caves and abandoned mines in 33 eastern and southern states to help stop the spread of white-nose syndrome and protect endangered bats, including the Indiana bats.
Piping plover (Charadrius melodus)
Range: Atlantic Coast of United States and Canada, Great Lakes
Thanks to their sand-colored plumage and stop-and-go dashes across dunes, piping plovers are usually heard before they’re seen. But their camouflage means they’re vulnerable to off-road vehicles and other threats, which have made them among the rarest shorebirds in North America. Off-road vehicles, which ruin habitat, crush nests and eggs, and directly kill birds. Climate change poses a growing threat to the piping plover. Many plovers nest on the U.S. Atlantic Coast, and all plovers winter along the beaches and dunes of the southern Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean coastlines. Sea-level rise and storm intensification threaten to inundate the piping plover’s coastal breeding and foraging habitat; degrade the quality of habitat for foraging, nesting, and cover; and alter the composition and availability of prey species.

To save piping plovers, the Center has been working hard to keep off-road vehicles out of precious habitat through our Off-road Vehicles campaign. We also filed a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for inadequately protecting piping plover habitat.
Snowy owl (Bubo scandiacus)
Range: Arctic regions of both the old and new worlds
The snowy owl was first classified as a species in 1758. This large, white-feathered tundra dweller relies primarily on lemmings for food, but will take advantage of larger prey, including rabbits and foxes. It can eat more than 1,600 lemmings per year. The snowy owl is an extremely important component of the food web in the tundra ecosystem. Already, climate change may be threatening the snowy owl's primary prey — the lemming. In Norway, changes in temperature and humidity affecting snowpack may have interrupted the regular boom-and-bust cycle of lemming populations, making this food source less predictable for the owls. In addition, researchers have recently discovered that snowy owls may use Arctic sea-ice habitat extensively in winter for hunting sea ducks. The melting of the sea ice may impact the owl’s ability to hunt in winter.
Three-toed box turtle (Terrapene carolina triunguis)
Range: South-central United States
Three-toed box turtles are the state reptile of Missouri and have long been kept as pets. These turtles are recognizable for their highly domed shell and three-toed back feet (hence their name). In the wild, these box turtles are threatened by global warming as environmental changes threaten to dramatically alter the forests, marshes, and humid grasslands they call home. Sex determination of developing turtles is temperature dependent, and warming temperatures from climate change threaten to disrupt the turtle’s gender balance. One study has found that under future climate conditions, three-toed box turtles might experience precariously low growth rates as smaller individuals produce fewer eggs.

In 2009 the Center, along with local groups from each state, petitioned wildlife and health agencies in Arkansas, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Ohio, South Carolina, and Tennessee for a ban on commercial harvest of freshwater turtles.
Topeka shiner (Notropis girardi)
Range: Mississippi and Missouri river basins
A minnow that lives up to its name, the Topeka shiner is easily recognized by its bright silver scales and distinctly orange or yellow fins during breeding season. The shiner now inhabits less than 10 percent of its former range, a fact that does not bode well for it or stream health in general. The Topeka shiner needs small prairie streams with good water quality and cool temperatures. Changes in water flow and rising stream temperatures, which can be affected by climate change, threaten to make its habitat less livable.

The diminutive Topeka shiner was part of the biggest Endangered Species Act lawsuit in U.S. history when the Center and Fund for Animals sued for the protection of about 500 imperiled species in 1992. After that, a Center suit earned the species critical habitat — but not enough was designated. In 2007, we filed a notice of intent to sue to win the fish more critical habitat.
Western moose (Alces alces andersoni)
Range: From northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan into western Ontario, west to central British Columbia, and north to the eastern Yukon and Northwest Territories
This subspecies of moose is particularly at risk in Isle Royale National Park in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where a plague of ticks, extremely hot summers, and hungry wolves — which are also in decline — have driven the moose population to its lowest point in at least 50 years.

During extremely hot summers, moose lose their appetites and seek shelter from the heat, putting them in a bad position to survive winter — since they depend on summer reserves from foraging to survive the coldest months. Warming also brings more moose ticks, which feed on moose, and a massive infestation has already developed in Isle Royale National Park. Making matters worse, warmer weather is also causing stress that makes moose more susceptible to parasites, particularly brainworm, a parasite spread by deer — and spread all the more easily when fewer deer are dying in warm winters. With a shortage of moose meat, wolves are consuming virtually everything else, and little is left for smaller predators and scavengers, like the fox and hare — affecting the entire ecosystem of the Upper Peninsula’s amazing national park.
Whooping crane (Grus americana)
Range: Only known remaining nesting location at Wood Buffalo National Park in Alberta, Canada; breeding populations migrate south to winter along the Gulf Coast of Texas
The tallest North American bird, the whooping crane is also one of the rarest, largely thanks to habitat loss. One effort to save this amazing bird attempted to establish a new flyway by training young whooping cranes to follow ultralight aircraft. At one time, the range for these birds extended throughout the Midwest, but in 1941, the wild population consisted of just 21 birds. In early 2007, a disastrous storm killed all of the 2006 yearlings after their arrival in Florida. With global warming, the potential for these types of catastrophic events increases. What’s more, changes in precipitation that shrink the inland wetlands of the crane’s breeding ground would reduce the availability of quality nesting sites, reduce food availability, and allow predators to access nests and young. On the bird’s wintering grounds along the Texas coast, sea-level rise combined with land subsidence would reduce the suitability of salt marsh and open water areas for the cranes.

In 2009, the Center worked with local environmentalists in Nebraska to convince a utility to relocate a proposed wind tower outside the crane’s flyway.