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A recent IUCN report released at the Copenhagen climate change conference identifies 10 species that are most vulnerable to climate change. Arctic Foxes, Clownfish, Koalas, Emperor Penguins, Leatherback Turtles, Staghorn Corals, Ringed Seals, Quiver Trees, Salmon and Beluga Whales.
Leatherback Turtles are listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN’s Red List and already face a number of threats, including accidental capture by fisheries, coastal development and mistaken consumption of plastic debris. Leatherbacks highlight the impacts of increasing air and sea temperatures, rising sea levels and changing ocean currents. These changes are likely to affect all marine turtles and many other marine species.
Average global temperatures are predicted to increase by at least 2°C in the next 40 years due to climate change. The resulting increase in the temperature of the sand used for nesting could have serious consequences for Leatherbacks. The predicted outcome of this change is an increase in the number of females relative to males in populations. This could threaten the stability of Leatherback populations in the future.
Ocean levels are thought to have risen at an average rate of 1.8 mm per year since 1961, and are predicted to rise even more rapidly in the future. Increases in storm frequency and severity have also been predicted. This is likely to lead to increased beach erosion and degradation, which could wash away turtle nests and decrease nesting habitat in the longer term.
Dispersal and food availability:
Ocean currents are important for both juvenile and adult Leatherbacks. Juveniles use them to aid dispersal following hatching and adults use them as aids to navigation and long-distance migration. In addition, changes to oceanic currents are likely to affect the abundance and distribution of jellyfish and other Leatherback prey species. While climate change impacts on ocean currents are likely, the nature of these changes, and hence their effects on Leatherbacks, remain uncertain.http://www.iucn.org/iyb/about/species_o ... s_climate/
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