Where Are Animals Most Likely to Go Extinct Due to Climate Change?

ENVIRONMENT

Australia and South America are among the hardest hit as rising temperatures could drive the extinction of one in six species worldwide. (Nat Geo News)

Use our educator guide to learn more about teaching climate change.

The highest risks characterized South America and Australia (14% to 23%), and the lowest risks characterized North America and Europe (5% to 6%). Colors indicate relative risk. Bar graphs with 95% CIs and number of studies (n) are displayed. Click here to read the entire, fascinating report in the journal Science. Map courtesy Mark C. Urban and Science

The highest risks characterized South America and Australia (14% to 23%), and the lowest risks characterized North America and Europe (5% to 6%). Colors indicate relative risk. Bar graphs with 95% CIs (credible intervals) and number of studies (n) are displayed. Click here to read the entire, fascinating report in the journal Science.
Map courtesy Mark C. Urban and Science

Discussion Ideas

  • According to the Nat Geo News article, “animals and plants in South America and Australia [are] particularly hard hit” due to climate change. Why do you think animals on these continents are at risk?
    • There’s not many of them to begin with: According to Nat Geo News, South America has “naturally small populations of native species in its tropical rainforests and mountains.”
    • They can’t relocate: According to Nat Geo News, “the ability of plants and animals to shift to new locations is constrained by oceans” in Australia and Oceania.

 

  • Take a look at the map above. Based on information in the map and the explanation provided in the text below it, what is the major limitation of this study?
    • The “n” on the map indicates the number of studies evaluated in the new report. Most studies have focused on North America and Europe. Only four studies of extinction risk due to climate change have been conducted in Asia, for example. Only six such studies have been conducted on global marine life. (North America and Europe, however, have dozens of tests to evaluate.) We need more data!
    • Other limitations mentioned in the Nat Geo News article are “Global extinction rates also can’t take into account how climate change affects predator and prey relationships, or how fast or slowly plants and animals might move to new habitats.”

 

 

  • Are there any animals that will benefit from climate change?
    • Yep. Let the National Wildlife Federation tell you about it.

 

TEACHERS’ TOOLKIT

Nat Geo: What Animals Are Likely to Go Extinct First Due to Climate Change

Nat Geo: Changing Climate: A Guide for Teaching Climate Change in Grades 3 to 8

(extra credit) Science: Accelerating extinction risk from climate change

One response to “Where Are Animals Most Likely to Go Extinct Due to Climate Change?

  1. Pingback: 11 Things We Learned This Week | Nat Geo Education Blog·

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