QUIVER TREE This striking giant aloe was given its
name by the San people of southern Africa, who use
the tree's hollow branches as quivers for their
arrows. Scientists have discovered that quiver trees
are starting to die off in parts of their traditional
range. The species might be in the early stages of
moving southward, trying to escape rising
temperatures closer to the equator.
PINON MOUSE This tiny resident of the
southwestern U.S. has long eked out its living in
juniper woodlands, but in California it is heading for
higher, cooler altitudes in the High Sierra conifer
forests. The mouse is one of several small
mammals in the region that have moved their homes
1,000 to 3,000 ft. higher in elevation over the past century.
RED-BREASTED GOOSE Twenty-six bird species, including this goose, which breeds in
the Arctic, are listed by the World Conservation Union as threatened by global warming.
Half are seabirds whose food supplies are diminished because of climate changes. The
rest are terrestrial species, including several whose coastal habitats are at risk because
of rising sea levels.
AFRICAN ELEPHANT Global warming might not only shrink the elephant's range within
Africa but may also wreak havoc with the animal's love life. The relative abundance--or
scarcity--of food affects the social hierarchy of the herd, which in turn can determine
which animals get to breed.
BUTTERFLIES Researchers have documented shifts in the ranges of many butterflies.
One study looked at 35 species of nonmigratory butterflies whose ranges extended from
northern Africa to northern Europe. The scientists found that two-thirds of the species
had shifted their home ranges northward by 20 to 150 miles. In the U.S., researchers
have closely tracked the movements of the butterfly known as Edith's checkerspot (at
right, middle). Though butterflies might be sturdier than they look, scientists believe many
species will not survive the impact of climate change.
KING PROTEA It is the national flower of South Africa, just one among the many
spectacular members of the large family of flowering plants named after Proteus, a
Greek god capable of changing his shape at will. Scientists fear that more than a third of
all Proteaceae species could disappear by 2050.
MISTLETOE The limber pine dwarf mistletoe is proliferating throughout western forests
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in North America, thanks to heat and drought-weakened trees that act as perfect hosts
for this botanical parasite. It's not unlike what happens in your body, says researcher
Connie Millar of the U.S. Forest Service: "When your system is stressed, you're more
vulnerable to all kinds of things that want to get you."
FROGS Amphibians have been hopping, swimming and crawling about the planet for
350 million years. But their future is hardly assured. A global assessment of the state of
this entire class of vertebrates found that nearly one-third of the 5,743 known species are
in serious trouble. Climate change may well be the culprit in most cases, either directly or
indirectly. The home habitat of the golden toad (at right, bottom) in Costa Rica moved up
the mountain until "home" disappeared entirely. More than two-thirds of the 110 species
of colorful harlequin frogs in Central and South America, two shown above, have also
disappeared. Scientists believe that what killed many of the harlequins and what
threatens a great many other amphibian species is a disease caused by the fungus
Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. Climate change seems to be making frogs more
vulnerable to infection by the fungus.
What troubles scientists especially is that if we are only in the early stages of warming, all
these lost and endangered animals might be just the first of many to go. One study
estimates that more than a million species worldwide could be driven to extinction by the
-With reporting by with reporting by Dan Cray/ Los Angeles