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Moose could become extinct in Minnesota by 2025 and climate change is being cited as a factor.

Some moose show serious neurological symptoms, according to Seth Moore, a biologist for the Grand Portage Band of Chippewa, a Native-American tribe near the Canadian border. He’s been working with the state, using the same GPS collars on tribal land.

“The things that are affecting moose are parasites that are transmitted from deer,” he explained, pointing out that deer numbers increase in warmer temperatures. Winter ticks also affect moose, he added, and spike with early snow melt.

The moose is one of the best known of 180 different species that were moved to the endangered species list last year.

A study (PDF) published in Nature in 2004 found that anywhere from 15% to 37% of species will become extinct due to climate change:

Climate change over the past ,30 years has produced numerous shifts in the distributions and abundances of species and has been implicated in one species-level extinction. Using projections of species’ distributions for future climate scenarios, we
assess extinction risks for sample regions that cover some 20% of the Earth’s terrestrial surface. Exploring three approaches in which the estimated probability of extinction shows a power-law relationship with geographical range size, we predict, on the basis of mid-range climate-warming scenarios for 2050, that 15–37% of species in our sample of regions and taxa will be ‘committed to extinction’. When the average of the three methods and two dispersal scenarios is taken, minimal climate-warming scenarios produce lower projections of species committed to extinction (,18%) than mid-range (,24%) and maximum change (,35%) scenarios. These estimates show the importance of rapid implementation of technologies to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and strategies for carbon sequestration.
And nobody has all the answers to how to best mitigate these extinction events. A later study talked about the complexity of the task:
Species responses to climate change may be influenced by changes in available habitat, as well as population processes, species interactions and interactions between demographic and landscape dynamics. Current methods for assessing these responses fail to provide an integrated view of these influences because they deal with habitat change or population dynamics, but rarely both. In this study, we linked a time series of habitat suitability models with spatially explicit stochastic population models to explore factors that influence the viability of plant species populations under stable and changing climate scenarios in South African fynbos, a global biodiversity hot spot. Results indicate that complex interactions between life history, disturbance regime and distribution pattern mediate species extinction risks under climate change. Our novel mechanistic approach allows more complete and direct appraisal of future biotic responses than do static bioclimatic habitat modelling approaches, and will ultimately support development of more effective conservation strategies to mitigate biodiversity losses due to climate change.
The Star-Tribune builds on this to note that focusing on saving just one species will no longer work.
“We’ve got to learn how to manage at a larger scale,” said Richard Baker, endangered species coordinator for the DNR.

The strategy of trying to save one species at a time will no longer work, Baker said. The new list shows that bigger solutions, such as maintaining broad swaths of forest and grassland, will be critical for the survival of not only those on the list but many others, he said.

Many animals and plants added to the list or moved up in status to threatened or endangered are unfamiliar to most. They include the spectaclecase mollusk, five types of jumping spiders, eight species of dragonflies, and many dozens of plants and lichens.

Taken together, they point out the state’s major environmental problems, including declining water quality, rapidly disappearing prairies, and fragmentation of the northern forests, Baker said.

The National Geographic says about moose:
In summer, food is far more plentiful in the northern regions of North America, Europe, and Asia. When the ice melts, moose are often seen in lakes, rivers, or wetlands, feeding on aquatic plants both at and below the surface. Moose are at home in the water and, despite their staggering bulk, are good swimmers. They have been seen paddling several miles at a time, and will even submerge completely, staying under for 30 seconds or more.
The National Geographic link shows two other reasons why moose are becoming extinct. Moose require plentiful food. However, among new species that were put on the threatened and endangered lists in Minnesota, many of them were plants. And declining water habitat is another factor, meaning less ability for moose to get cool in the unseasonably hot weather in Minnesota. A third factor is the increasingly fragmented forests in Minnesota, meaning that moose have to search more for food.

Another local outlet, the Minnesota Post, said that good news was hard to come by.

Curious about larger themes within this list, I called up its principal keeper — Rich Baker, endangered species coordinator at the DNR — and asked him what the 300 new additions, subtractions and reclassifications say about the state of nature in Minnesota.

"If you look at the reasons we've made these changes," he said, "there are three that are by far the most important:

Sixty percent are because of loss or degradation of habitat — not a big surprise to most people, I imagine, because we know our natural environment continues to have problems. We have less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the native prairie we had a few hundred years ago.

But it's not just development  and clearing land — it's the more subtle fragmentation, especially with forests, where we may have wooded areas that are healthy but they're not contiguous, and a lot of species need those larger forests.

In rivers, of course, it's siltation and chemical contamination. There are a bunch of mussels joining the list this year; half of our 50 native species are now listed as threatened or endangered. And yes, that's right, the new listings are about problems in the Mississippi River, but that's only because mussels were gone from most other waterways a long time ago.

Another 60 percent — the categories aren't mutually exclusive — just reflect new information; we've gained enormous volumes of new knowledge in the last couple of decades.  

And about 9 percent reflect the effects of invasive species. A good example is the goblin fern, in our northern forests, which is threatened by invasive earthworms.

There are plenty of other unanswered questions in light of the endangered moose. Are moose endangered in the rest of the world as well as Minnesota? Is Minnesota doing better or worse compared to the rest of the states of the union with regard to endangered species? If this environmental degradation continues, then it will only be a matter of time before people will leave the state for a better quality of life elsewhere.
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Comment Preferences

  •  That is the tree in the rain fallacy (5+ / 0-)

    People won't leave for elsewhere because every other place will be screwed up also.  You can't wait out a rainstorm under a tree with a plan to move to a new tree if that one gets wet through

    Basically Americans are selfish arrogant and ignorant little trolls who don't give a fuck about killing of the moose if it means they get their toys

  •  Ugh. Once moose goes, then surely (8+ / 0-)

    squirrel will not be far behind!

    Disturbances in society are never more fearful than when those who are stirring up the trouble can use the pretext of religion to mask their true designs. -- Denis Diderot

    by terremoto on Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 09:58:37 PM PST

  •  That is quite striking (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BelgianBastard, Tortmaster

    I think of Minnesota as having vast tracts of open land, yet the moose population is only thrice what I have in my own back yard.  They are not a nuisance exactly but we could easily spare a few to bulk up the breeding population if need be.

    PS  Nothing in this comment is intended to downplay the significance nor the danger of global warming and climate change.

    o caminho d'ouro, uma pinga de mel

    by tarkangi on Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 11:08:36 PM PST

  •  The really worrying thing... (3+ / 0-)

    is that climate change compounds the problems already faced by wildlife, namely sharply reduced numbers, lack of suitable habitat, highly fractured ranges, pollution and the introduction of invasive species.

    You don't have to be a genius to realize that if there are say 5000 of an animal or plant instead of say a million, any further pressures will be far more likely to cause extinction. And fractured habitats combined with changes in climate is especially dangerous; not so long ago many species would be able to roam hundreds of miles to find suitable conditions. That is seldom still the case.

    Some examples:

    In 1800 there were about one million rhinos. Today less than 30,000, divided amongst the five extant species.
    In 1900 there were a million Asian Elephants. Today less than 30,000 remain in the wild. They are expected to only exist in captivity by 2025.
    African Elephant populations have declined by two thirds since 1979.
    There are approximately three percent as many tigers as in 1900, when populations were already way down from a century earlier. Three subspecies went extinct since 1980.

    The examples go on and on. Cheetahs down 90% since 1900, lions down 97% since 1800, giraffes down 30-40% in the last ten years. and these were animals that were reasonably common with widespread distributions.

    Needless to say the ranges of all these animals have also been sharply reduced. Asian cheetahs, all two hundred of the live in a few scattered pockets in Iran. 250 Asian Lions live in a single reserve in India. 20-25 Amur Leopards live in a small area at the convergence of the borders of China, Russia and North Korea. 40 Javan Rhinos - once the most widespread Asian rhino cling on in a single small park on Java - approx. 30km by 40km. A second population in Vietnam was confirmed extinct in 2011.

    Many habitats have suffered similar declines; US wetlands lost in the last two hundred years: 53%. In England the amount of forest left is 7%. South American Atlantic forest is also down to 7%.

    This stuff is really scary.

    I ride the wild horse .

    by BelgianBastard on Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 11:27:07 PM PST

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