Eureka Nature

For posting information about natural history events in and around Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Global Warming and Arkansas Wildlife

Here's a report from the National Wildlife Federation.

NWF report: Global warming will damage Arkansas wildlife
Bulletin Sports Writer

The National Wildlife Federation recently sent out a report predicting the effects of global warming, and how the forecasted warmer temperatures are projected to alter Arkansas wildlife and its habitats.

Lisa Madry, a regional representative for the NWF, was particularly concerned by the potential decrease in the migration of waterfowl to the state.

The NWF report predicts extreme drought in the Prairie Porthole Region — an area where ducks breed in North and South Dakota and southern Canada. If that's the case, Madry said we "could see declines of as much as 70 percent of the duck population in the central and Mississippi flyways."

"So that's something that we are really interested in following — and are very concerned about how that would impact Arkansas," she said. "The models aren't clear if Arkansas would be a little more wet or dry, but in that (Porthole) region it's pretty clear there's going to be more drought, and that could have a huge impact on Arkansas."

According to the report, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that if global warming continues unabated, by the year 2100 "average temperatures in Arkansas could increase about two degrees Fahrenheit in winter and summer, and about three degrees Fahrenheit in spring and fall."

The NWF report listed three potential problems for Arkansas:
· warmer fall and winter temperatures in northern regions would make it unnecessary for waterfowl to fly as far south to find ice-free water and suitable food, seriously affecting Arkansas' waterfowl hunting industry.
· global warming could cause 40-60 percent of Arkansas' forests to be replaced by grasslands as slightly warmer temperatures push trees currently suited to the state's climate northward.
· loss of wildlife and habitat could mean a loss of tourism dollars.

Global warming occurs when coal, gas and oil are burned, producing carbon dioxide "that builds up in the atmosphere and traps the sun's heat," the report stated. Much of this greenhouse gas released today remains in the atmosphere even after 100 years, trapping more and more heat, the report continued.

Arkansas is located in an area where Gulf, Pacific and Arctic air masses often meet, which makes the state "highly sensitive to extreme weather changes," the report concluded.

Rising temperatures, according to the report, "will likely change the makeup of entire ecosystems, forcing wildlife to shift their ranges or adapt."

Arkansas has 312 birds, 69 mammals, 64 reptiles, 203 fish and 49 amphibians, and the report said these animals are subject to the following risks:
· as the temperature warms, the makeup of forests in Arkansas is expected to change dramatically.
· the breeding range of 31 species of songbirds could shift out of Arkansas forever due to climate factors and changing food sources.
· higher temperatures and drought during summer months could reduce the productivity of bobwhite quail by limiting the availability of insects necessary to keep hens and chicks healthy.
· global warming has the potential to expand the range of imported fire ants into the northern regions of the state; wildlife at particular risk to ant attacks include newly born fawns, hatchling quail and ground-nesting waterfowl chicks.

Temperatures on Earth, according to the report, could climb between two to 10 degrees this century unless changes are made to reduce the pollution. "Such a rapid rise in temperature would fundamentally reshape the planet's climate, forever changing the landscape and water resources people and wildlife depend upon," the report stated.

Madry said it's up to each individuals to make changes in his or her energy consumption.

"Simple things like getting fluorescent light bulbs and things like that," she said. "It doesn't seem like a lot, but it really does add up."

She encouraged Arkansas residents to impress this issue on the lawmakers.

"We need to reduce the global warming pollution, and we need legislation at the federal level that's going to help us do that," said Madry.

"This is where folks in Arkansas have a key role to play — to work to get the Arkansas senators to help support legislation that would commit the country to better alternative energy technologies that are cleaner and more sustainable, and reducing and requiring cuts to our carbon-based emissions," she added.

To read more about the NWF's report, go to .

To learn about The Climate Stewardship Act, a bipartisan plan in Congress aimed at reducing global warming pollution in the U.S., visit the Web site .

"Sometimes it seems like a big and overwhelming thing and the solutions are really far away from us," said Madry. "In one sense it is a big problem, but there actually are solutions.

"There are things people can actually do to make a difference on this," she added. "I would just encourage people to learn more about the issue, because it's not something that's going to go away."
Originally published February 25, 2006



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