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Black-spored quillwort (Isoetes melanospora)
Range: Georgia
Black-spored quillwort is a small, nonflowering aquatic plant related to ferns. Listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act in 1988, it grows exclusively in shallow, temporary pools on granite outcrops. There are currently only 11 populations known to exist in Georgia. Extremely specialized site requirements, limited distribution, and small populations all make this plant particularly vulnerable to extirpation. Climate change threatens the black-spored quillwort through higher risk of drought and higher temperatures that can dry the fragile pools it calls home.
Delmarva Peninsula fox squirrel (Sciurus niger cinereus)
Range: southeastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey
The Delmarva Fox Squirrel is an endangered subspecies of fox squirrel whose historical range included the Delmarva Peninsula, southeastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey. The squirrel’s range has been reduced by 90% and it’s now only found on the Delmarva Peninsula in Maryland. Like all fox squirrels, the Delmarva has a full, fluffy tail. The Delmarva fox squirrel is frosty silver to slate gray with a white belly and can grow to be 30 inches long with 15 inches of tail! Their preferred habitat is mature forest of both hardwood and pine trees with an open, park-like understory.

Climate change is predicted to more frequently bring consecutive years with similar weather patterns including drought conditions. One study found that a climate trend towards longer periods of unfavorable conditions for fox squirrels could increase the extinction risk of isolated populations.
Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostrus)
Range: Florida
Manatees, sometimes referred to as sea cows, are large, aquatic marine mammals related to elephants that spend much of their time resting and gently grazing on seagrasses and other vegetation in warm, shallow waters. The population of manatees in Florida is thought to be between 1,000 and 3,000, and they’ve been known to live up to 60 years. The leading cause of death is boat strikes, which kill manatees and leave propeller wounds on the survivors. The number of manatee deaths in Florida caused by humans has been increasing, and now typically accounts for 20 to 40 percent of recorded deaths. Sea-level rise and changes in water flow that increase water turbidity threaten the manatee’s main food source of seagrasses that grow in shallow, relatively clear waters. Hurricane intensity and storm surge will increase with climate change, which may directly kill manatees or impact their food supply, leading to impaired manatee health and reproduction.

In response to a petition by the Center and allies, in 2009 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agreed that new habitat protections may be warranted for the manatee.
Florida panther (Puma concolor coryi)
Range: Primarily a 3,548-square-mile area in south Florida’s Everglades region, with some panthers sited in various Florida counties north of the Caloosahatchee River
A reserved, stealthy predator of enormous physical grace and power, the Florida panther is one of the most majestic large felines in the wild, and tragically, it’s the only large feline remaining in the Southeast. Once found throughout the southeast United States, the Florida panther now occupies only about 5 percent of its former range, and it numbers just 100 to 120 individual cats. By far the greatest threats to Florida panthers are habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation — all driven by Florida’s burgeoning human population and the developments and highways that accommodate it. Sea-level rise, estimated to reach 1 meter or more by 2100, will inundate and eliminate a large portion of the panther’s remaining habitat in Florida’s low-lying Everglades.

The Center petitioned for the protection of roughly 3 million acres of critical habitat for the panther in September 2009.
Florida prairie clover (Dalea carthagenensis floridana)
Range: Big Cypress National Preserve in Monroe and Collier counties and Miami-Dade County, Florida
The Florida prairie clover has been reduced to just nine isolated patches in fragmented habitat in the low-lying south Florida pinelands. This rare plant is at risk of winking out forever due to fire suppression, exotic plant invasion, squashing by off-road vehicles — and now, climate change. Hurricanes, tropical storms, and storm surges harm the delicate plant, making increasingly powerful hurricanes, higher storm surge, and ever-increasing sea-level rise due to climate change serious threats to its future. But though the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declares this plant is in imminent need of federal protection, the Florida prairie clover remains a mere “candidate” for Endangered Species Act listing.
Frosted flatwoods salamander (Ambystoma cingulatum)
Range: southeastern coastal plain, United States
The Frosted flatwoods salamander only occurs in the southeastern coastal plain of the United States. It inhabits seasonally wet pine flatwoods and savannas and breeds in small, shallow, ephemeral ponds. Courtship presumably occurs on land, where the female accepts a spermatophore that has been deposited on the ground by the male. The eggs hatch in response to rising water levels in the ponds. Adults migrate from surrounding upland habitats to their natal wetlands during rainfall associated with passing cold fronts. These salamanders are sensitive to drought. Projected increases in drought conditions could dry the salamanders’ shallow, short-lived breeding ponds.

After years of litigation brought by the Center and allies, the salamander was listed as a threatened species in 2009 and more than 27,000 acres of critical habitat was designated.
Golden sedge (Carex lutea)
Range: Northeast Cape Fear River watershed in Onslow and Pender counties, North Carolina
Although the golden sedge is found throughout the United States, it’s locally rare and endangered due to its dependence on particular soil conditions. This plant’s distribution is limited to eight known populations in a few square miles in a single watershed in southeastern North Carolina. It grows on sandy soils with a basic pH at the edges of the savanna-swamp, where the soil is often wet or shallowly inundated. Because of its specific needs for soil type and location, the golden sedge is vulnerable to changes in the water table. Climate change intensifies the threats to golden sedge both through reductions in precipitation and through the resulting increased water pumping for nearby agriculture, both of which could result in drying of the particular soils and locations upon which the golden sedge relies.

In 2002, the golden sedge achieved federal endangered status thanks to legal action by the Center and allies. In 2007, we filed suit to earn the plant critical habitat.
Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas)
Range: Worldwide distribution in tropical and subtropical waters
The green sea turtle is one of the oldest sea turtles studied; in fact, much knowledge about sea turtle ecology comes from studies of this species. Green sea turtles’ common name derives from the green fat underneath their shells. Like other sea turtles, over their average lifespan of 80 years, they migrate long distances between feeding grounds and hatching beaches. Sea turtles spend almost all their lives submerged but must breathe air, routinely diving for about five minutes and surfacing to breathe for one to three seconds. They can sleep underwater for several hours, but their ability to hold their breath is affected by activity and stress, which is why turtles drown in fishing gear within a relatively short time. Global warming threatens the green sea turtle in several ways: Rising sea levels may inundate nesting beaches; increased sand temperatures can lead to changes in the sex ratio of hatchling turtles; warming ocean temperatures are leading to mass coral bleaching, damaging reef habitats where turtles feed; and changes in ocean currents can alter turtle migrations paths and feeding patterns.

The Center takes to court to defend the green sea turtle and other sea turtle species from longline fishing through our Fisheries Campaign.
Hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)
Range: Tropical reefs of the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans
The critically endangered hawksbill sea turtle is the only species in its genus. Its distinguishing feature: the sharp, curving, beak-like mouth from which it gets its common name. Its chosen prey includes sea sponges, which are highly toxic and can be lethal when eaten by other creatures — but not for the hawksbill. Human fishing practices and the use of hawskbill shells for tortoiseshell trinkets have resulted in the hawksbill facing the possibility of extinction. Global warming threatens the hawksbill in several ways: Rising sea levels may inundate nesting beaches; increased sand temperatures can lead to changes in the sex ratio of hatchling turtles; warming ocean temperatures are leading to mass coral bleaching, damaging reef habitats where turtles feed; and changes in ocean current can alter turtle migrations paths and feeding patterns.

The Center works hard to stop longline fishing practices that ensnare the hawksbill and other sea turtles.
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.
Ivory tree coral (Oculina varicosa)
Range: Western Atlantic
This Caribbean coral is a slow-growing and delicate-branching coral whose thickets provide a home to various reef fish. Ivory tree coral is considered a keystone species, meaning that its own health indicates the health of the ecosystem around it — thus, it’s telling that these corals have been decimated by destructive fishing practices such as bottom trawling, which has killed about 30 percent of the population across its range. And today, corals like the ivory tree are among the species most threatened by greenhouse gas pollution. With warming ocean temperatures comes frequent mass bleaching events that lead to widespread coral death and higher risk of disease. Ocean acidification harms corals’ ability to build their skeletons, and all corals are predicted to dissolve at CO2 levels of 560 parts per million.

In 2009, the Center filed a scientific petition to list 83 species of corals under the Endangered Species Act due to global warming, including this species.
Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii)
Range: Western Atlantic seaboard from Florida to New England; Gulf of Mexico
The critically endangered Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle is the smallest and rarest sea turtle. In 1947, there were an estimated 89,000 nesting females, but by the mid-1980s, that number had plummeted to an estimated 1,000. One of the biggest threats to the species has been shrimp trawling, which entangles and drowns the turtles. Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles change color with development. As hatchlings, they’re almost entirely a dark gray, but adults have a yellow-green or white undershell and a gray-green upper shell. Sea-level rise may inundate nesting beaches for the Kemp’s Ridley; increased sand temperatures can lead to changes in the sex ratio of hatchling turtles; and changes in ocean current can alter turtle migrations paths and feeding patterns.

The Center has waged a long battle to curtail fishing practices such as longlining and trawling that threaten the Kemp’s Ridley.
Leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)
Range: All tropical and subtropical oceans, as far south as the southernmost tip of New Zealand and as far north as the Arctic Circle
As ancient as the dinosaurs, leatherback sea turtles are the heaviest reptiles on the planet. In addition to longlines and gillnets, these remarkable creatures face the threat of global warming. Rising sea levels, increased sand temperatures, and stronger storms threaten the sandy beaches the turtles use to nest. Shifting currents may alter the ocean’s upwelling patterns, which turtles depend on for food. And because turtles lack sex chromosomes, their genes don‘t determine whether a hatchling is male or female. Instead, buried eggs take their cue from the ambient temperature. With a mere two-degree increase over 29 degrees Celsius, a nest will produce all females — a few degrees higher, and eggs won‘t hatch at all. To maintain a viable breeding population, a cool, male-producing year must come at least once every five to 10 years.

Since leatherbacks are particularly imperiled in the Pacific Ocean, in 2007 the Center petitioned to obtain critical habitat for leatherbacks off California and Oregon. In 2009, we filed a notice of intent to sue to speed habitat protection.
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.
North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis)
Range: Atlantic Ocean, particularly between 20° and 60° latitude.
The North Atlantic right whale’s scientific name is Eubalaena glacialis, which means “good, or true, whale of the ice.” About 400 of these whales live in the North Atlantic Ocean, migrating between feeding grounds in the Gulf of Maine and calving areas in Georgia and Florida. Dangerously, their paths collide with heavily used shipping routes, and between 1970 and 1999, 35.5 percent of recorded right whale deaths were attributed to ship strikes. North Atlantic right whales are also threatened by climate change because they appear to have better calf survival when Calanus copepod prey are abundant, and climate change influences the abundance of this prey species.

To protect the North Atlantic right whale, the Center petitioned for critical habitat for the species in 2009.
Oyster mussel (Epioblasma capsaeformis)
Range: United States
You’ve heard of oysters. You’ve heard of mussels. Now allow us to introduce the oyster mussel, a freshwater bivalve mollusk found in rivers all over the United States. The IUCN Red List of Endangered Species lists the oyster mussel as critically endangered. Pesticide contamination of rivers and habitat loss have brought this species to the brink of extinction. Increasing drought conditions due to climate change, made worse by water withdrawals, threaten water flow in the oyster mussel’s remaining river habitat.
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.
Purple bean (Villosa perpurpurea)
Range: Northeastern Tennessee and southwestern Virginia
The purple bean is a freshwater mussel endemic to the United Sates. It is found in scattered populations throughout the upper Tennessee River system, with a fragmented distribution that makes it extremely vulnerable to extinction via one catastrophic event.

Increasing drought conditions due to climate change, compounded by heavier water withdrawals by humans, threaten water flow in this mussel’s remaining river habitat.
Rough rabbitsfoot (Quadrula cylindrica strigillata)
Range: Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia
Not a rabbit — not even a mammal — rough rabbitsfoot is a river-dwelling mussel that was listed as endangered in 1997. Coal-mining, toxic chemical spills, and poor land management practices have destroyed most of its habitat. Isolated populations remain in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia.

Increasing drought conditions due to climate change, in conjunction with water withdrawals, threaten water flow in the mussels’ remaining river habitat.
Seabeach amaranth (Amaranthus pumilus)
Range: U.S. Atlantic Coast barrier islands
Seabeach amaranth is restricted to the barrier island beaches of the U.S. Atlantic Coast. There are currently only 55 known populations — the plant has been eliminated from two-thirds of its historic range. Numerous shorebirds, including the endangered piping plover, nest in amaranth stands. Beachfront development, off-road vehicles, and hurricanes have degraded amaranth populations.

Since being federally protected as threatened in 1993, seabeach amaranth is making a tenuous comeback. However, its dependence on beach habitat and the small number of its populations make this species vulnerable to catastrophic events; sea-level rise and increased storms due to climate change threaten the beach sites where it grows.
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.
West Virginia northern flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus fuscus)
Range: West Virginia and Virginia
With built-in parachutes extending between their legs, West Virginia northern flying squirrels glide among the trees in the mountains of Appalachia. A species whose heritage reaches back more than 30 million years, the West Virginia northern flying squirrel is now poised on the brink of extinction. Global warming models predict the complete disappearance of the squirrel’s high-elevation hardwood forest habitat without a dramatic reduction in carbon emissions. Still, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed federal protections from the squirrel in 2008.

To save this poster critter of West Virginia’s mountaintop forests, in 2009 the Center and a coalition of allies filed a notice of intent to sue to over the squirrel’s removal from the endangered species list. We also sharply criticized the move in comments we submitted detailing the Service’s mischaracterization of threats to the West Virginia northern flying squirrel, especially climate change and logging, and the agency’s inaccurate representation of current population numbers.
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.