350 home Browse by region Browse by taxon Browse alphabetically Take action

 

NEVADA SPECIES THAT NEED US TO GET TO 350 Photo credits
Amargosa toad (Bufo nelsoni)
Range: A 10-mile stretch of the Amargosa River and upland springs in Oasis Valley, Nevada
These occupants of southern Nevada’s Oasis Valley, a rare and biologically diverse wetland area, use their sticky tongues to feed along the water’s edge at night and take shelter in burrows, debris piles, and vegetation by day. But wetlands are scarce in this amphibian’s northern Mojave home, and the scores of native species they contain are increasingly threatened by human encroachment. Global warming is already increasing the frequency and severity of droughts in the Southwest, which can shrink the toad’s wetland habitat and further reduce breeding and feeding areas.

In response to a petition submitted by the Center and allies, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced in September 2009 that it was launching a full status review to determine whether the Amargosa toad warrants protections under the Endangered Species Act.
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.
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.
Bonneville cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki utah)
Range: Tributaries to Great Salt Lake, Utah
The Bonneville cutthroat trout is one of 14 recognized subspecies of cutthroat trout. The Bonneville descended from trout that originally lived in Lake Bonneville in the Pleistocene era. Over time, the lake became desiccated and transformed into the Great Salt Lake, dividing one large population of trout into many smaller subpopulations, which spread out in the still-viable mountain lakes and streams. But though it survived one drastic ecosystem change eons ago, the Bonneville cutthroat trout may not fair well in the face of climate change. Warmer water temperatures and high winter flooding will affect this trout’s ability to survive. One study found that climate-related changes threaten 73 percent of the habitat currently occupied by Bonneville cutthroat trout.
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.
Bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus)
Range: Cold waters of northwestern North America
The bull trout is a type of char — a small-scaled trout with light spots — that was recognized as a distinct species in 1980. Some bull trout are anadromous (spending part of their lifecycle in ocean waters), while others prefer landlocked lakes or rivers. Individual bull trout vary a great deal in size, depending on their specific habitat, but all require cold, clear water with unobstructed migratory paths.

Rising water temperature and changes in stream flows can affect bull trout in each of their life stages. Even small increases in temperature can change migration timing, reduce growth, lower the supply of available oxygen in the water, reduce preferred prey species, and increase the susceptibility of fish to parasites and disease. High levels of winter flooding can scour eggs from their nests in streambeds and increase mortalities among over-wintering juveniles. About 90 percent of bull trout are projected to be lost due to warming.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Las Vegas buckwheat (Eriogonum corymbosum var. nilesii)
Range: 15 sites in the Mojave Desert in southern Nevada
This beautiful flowering shrub grows on gypsum-rich soils in the open desert. Unfortunately, the Las Vegas buckwheat shares its habitat with one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the United States — Las Vegas. Because of its extremely limited distribution in such a harsh environment, the Las Vegas buckwheat is particularly vulnerable to local extirpation. Increased drought and temperatures due to global climate change could adversely affect Las Vegas buckwheat by reducing seed germination and seedling establishment, and by increasing the frequency of brush fires.

The Center’s federal petition to list the plant under the Endangered Species Act has helped call the public’s eye to the plant’s plight and profile. We’ve also filed a scientific petition to list the plant under Nevada’s Endangered Species Act.
Moapa dace (Moapa coriacea)
Range: Muddy River and thermal springs within Warm Springs area of Clark County, Nevada
The sole species in the genus Moapa, the Moapa dace lives only in the warm springs of the upper Muddy River in Nevada and has a distinctive leathery appearance — hence the scientific name coriacea, which means “leathery.” When first discovered in 1938, the dace was considered common. Today, its habitat is limited to three springs, and recent surveys found only 460 dace remaining. Global warming threatens to further deplete the few remaining springs this fish relies on for survival.

The Center is actively opposing the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s plans to develop and mine more than 200,000 acre-feet from the aquifers, which will reduce the area’s water table, alter water temperatures and chemistry, change habitat structures, and reduce water flow — perhaps eliminating it altogether.
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.
Relict leopard frog (Rana onca)
Range: Lake Mead in Nevada
The relict leopard frog was originally declared extinct in the 1950s, only to be rediscovered in the early ’90s. Unfortunately, the relict may disappear just as suddenly as it reappeared — the species is limited to at most 1,100 individuals, at least half of which live in one environmentally sensitive location. Climate change is one of greatest threats to this species’ continued survival. The frog is now restricted to six springs within the Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Nevada, where water is growing scarcer due to warming temperatures, increased drought frequency, and declining snowpack. Researchers project that Colorado River flows will decline by 10 to 30 percent, and there’s a 50-percent chance that Lake Mead will dry up by 2021.

The petitioned to list the species under the Endangered Species Act in 2002, three years later filing suit to expedite protection. Wildlife agencies have spent five years drafting a conservation strategy for the frog. Reintroductions of captive-reared relict leopard frogs began at six springs in Arizona and Utah in 2006.
Sand Mountain blue butterfly (Euphilotes pallescens arenamontana)
Range: Sand Mountain Recreation Area in Churchill County, Nevada
The Sand Mountain blue butterfly is a beautiful and rare species, living in only one place on Earth: the “singing” Sand Mountain dunes of Nevada. The butterfly is highly dependent on just one plant — the Kearney buckwheat, whose leaves and petals are munched on by larvae while adults sip the nectar. Sand Mountain blue butterflies often remain within 200 feet of their host plant for their entire life cycle. This restricted range, and the butterfly’s dependence on just one plant, make it extremely vulnerable to climate change, because climatic changes lower the abundance of the Kearney buckwheat and alter the synchrony of the butterfly’s life cycle with these plants — and that can have dire consequences.

The Center petitioned to protect the Sand Mountain blue under the Endangered Species Act in 2004, subsequently filing suit to compel a response, but the butterfly was denied protection. We continue our work to address the host of threats that face the species, including habitat destruction from off-road vehicles and global warming.
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.
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.
Spring Mountains springsnail (Pyrgulopsis deaconi)
Range: Spring Mountains, Nevada
Dotting the vast, arid expanses of the Great Basin and Mojave deserts are precious springs housing rare forms of life that, while small, play a huge role in their ecosystems. Springsnails — tiny and inconspicuous freshwater mollusks such as the Spring Mountains springsnail — help make life possible for countless other species, converting algae, microorganisms, and decaying matter into edibles for other invertebrates, fish, birds, turtles, amphibians, and small mammals. Their presence shapes water chemistry, nutrient cycling, and rates of productivity and breakdown. Without them, food chains would unravel and wetland living conditions could fall fatally out of whack. Global warming is already altering springs’ water-flow, and with their limited mobility and restricted distribution, these sensitive springsnails can’t move or adapt quickly enough to survive.

Accordingly, in February 2009 the Center filed a scientific petition to grant Endangered Species Act protection and designate critical habitat for 42 imperiled springsnails of the Great Basin and Mojave, including the Spring Moutains springsnail.
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.