National Geographic : 2015 Nov
142 national geographic • November 2015 Generalists that tolerate a range of climates. Those with diverse genes and speedy repro- duction (which lets helpful traits enter the gene pool fast). Those that can travel to a suitable new habitat—and that have somewhere to go. Com- petitive, often invasive species. Weeds. Which do poorly? Specialists with narrow climate needs. Those already battling for surviv- al. Small and fragmented populations, or those hemmed in by unsupportive landscapes. Ani- mals competing with humans. Groups lacking genetic diversity. High-elevation species, island dwellers, and many coral-dependent animals. Those needing ice to survive. We can’t stop this train. But we can slow its destructive run. Restoring landscapes should be a big part of the game plan, says Lovejoy, who adds that longtime degradation of ecosystems has created a lot of the excess carbon dioxide. “A massive restoration effort could actually remove half a degree worth of potential climate change from the atmosphere before it happens.” Heading off more damage and caring for what’s left must be dual priorities. “The best we can do now,” says Watson, is to identify and pro- tect key populations, “then try to stop humanity from getting in the way of their functioning.” j WHITE-FRONTED LEMUR Over the next 70 years, lemur species on the island of Madagascar could lose about 60 percent of their habitat due to climate change. If climate were the animals’ only foe, perhaps the white-fronted lemur could survive; climate change won’t shrink its lowland and montane habitat. But other factors may—chief among them, slash-and-burn agriculture and a growing human population. NAPLES ZOO, FLORIDA CHINSTRAP PENGUIN Winners turned losers: Chinstraps prefer open to ice- choked waters, so in the past 50 years of fast-melting Antarctic ice, their population boomed. But now increasing ultraviolet light exposure is killing off the algae eaten by krill (the penguins’ food source), and that means less krill for penguins to share with rebounding whale populations. Soon environmental change may beat tourism as the biggest threat to chinstraps. NEWPORT AQUARIUM, KENTUCKY Joel Sartore founded the National Geographic Photo Ark in an effort to slow, or stop, the world’s extinction crisis. Learn more about the project at natgeophotoark.org.