Sunday, December 15, 2013

Delmarva Fox Squirrel Threatened By Climate Change

The Delmarva fox squirrel is an endangered subspecies of the fox squirrel that lives in parts of Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia. Its numbers have been greatly reduced over the past century by habitat loss due to agriculture, logging, and urban development. In recent years, conservation efforts have led to a rebound in the population of this rare squirrel, creating hope that it might be saved from extinction.

Unfortunately, a new report from the Center for Biological Diversity contains troubling news for the Delmarva fox squirrel. The report lists the squirrel among the five animal species most at risk from rising seas due to global climate change.

According to the report, if sea levels rise by six feet by the end of this century, half of the squirrel's habitat would be underwater. The Delmarva fox squirrel requires old growth pine and hardwood forest, which has already been greatly reduced over much of its historical range. If the sea level rises at the rate that many climate scientists predict, this will leave few places for this squirrel to find refuge.

Even a more modest sea level rise would seriously reduce the already modest available habitat for the Delmarva fox squirrel. If governments, corporations, and citizens don't take steps immediately to reduce carbon emissions, this and many other species could soon live only in our memories.

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