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GREAT LAKES SPECIES THAT NEED US TO GET TO 350 Photo credits
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.
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.
Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis)
Range: Colorado, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin (contiguous U.S. distinct population segment)
Canada lynx are made for hunting in deep snow, with thick cushions of hair on the soles of their feet that act like built-in snowshoes. Appropriately enough, this adaptation helps them stalk their favorite prey, the snowshoe hare — unlike any other cat, the Canada lynx relies almost exclusively on the snowshoe hare for food. The lynx’s ability to hunt its favorite prey is intertwined with snow conditions. And deep snow plays another role in the lynx’s survival by excluding its main competitors for prey — coyotes and bobcats — and allowing the lynx to escape its own predator, the mountain lion. But warming winters can affect the texture, depth, and extent of snow cover. Climate change may also impact survival of the lynx’s primary habitat — boreal and alpine forests.

Thanks to a Center lawsuit, a judge ruled in 2008 that Minnesota was in violation of the Endangered Species Act by allowing traps that harm and kill Canada lynx.
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.
Karner blue butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis)
Range: Primarily Wisconsin; scattered populations throughout the Midwest and Northeast
The official state butterfly of New Hampshire, the Karner blue was first identified and named by novelist and lepidopterist Vladimir Nabokov. Its name originates from Karner, New York, where it was first discovered. This beautiful little butterfly’s lifecycle depends on the wild blue lupine flower, which itself is endangered. In 2000, the Karner blue was found to be extirpated in Canada. Rising temperatures may hurt Karner blues by increasing heat stress, influencing reproductive success, and causing the earlier die-off of its lupine host plant. In one laboratory experiment, signs of heat stress started at 96 degrees Fahrenheit for females and 98 degrees for males.
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.
Pitcher’s thistle (Cirsium pitcher)
Range: Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin
Pitcher’s thistle is endemic to the unforested dune systems on the shores of the western Great Lakes. There are 173 known occurrences found in Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin. This plant is a perennial herb that grows for five to eight years before sending up a once-in-a-lifetime pink or creamy white flower atop a three-foot stalk. Pitcher’s thistle requires active sand dunes to grow; residential development, road construction, and off-road vehicles have destroyed much of its habitat. The plant was listed as threatened in 1988.

Limited populations make the pitcher’s thistle particularly vulnerable to disturbance and stochastic events such as drought. Global warming threatens the pitcher’s thistle through changing rain patterns that can increase the likelihood of drought, as well as causing higher temperatures that may increase water needs during the plant’s bloom and throughout the year.
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.
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.
Wood turtle (Glyptemys insculpta)
Range: Northeastern United States and southeastern Canada
Not surprisingly, the wood turtle spends most of its time in wooded areas. It is, however, also semi-aquatic and dependent on streams, rivers, and ponds. A great escape artist and climber, this species has been known to systematically probe fenced-in areas to find a means of escape. In a series of maze experiments back in 1932, researchers concluded that the North American wood turtle had the learning capacity of a rat. Unfortunately, climate change may hurt wood turtles through increasing the frequency of flood events. Seasonal floods have been documented to displace northeastern wood turtles and cause higher mortality.

In 2009, the Center joined local groups in petitioning the Ohio governor, Department of Natural Resources, and Department of Health to ban turtle harvesting in the state, whose northeastern corner is home to the wood turtle.