Polar BearLatin name: Ursus Maritimus,
Conservsation status: vulnerable (population is unknown)
Although it looks white, Polar Bear fur is actually transparent and hollow and traps heat from the sun. The skin under their fur is black and absorbs the sun's heat. They also have a thick layer of fat so overheating can be a bigger problem than staying warm. Polar Bears can swim 6 mph—up to 100 miles at a time—and run as fast as 25 mph.
Polar Bears live only in the Arctic. Loss of sea ice has a critically adverse effect on Polar Bears. They hunt from the edge and build snow dens on the ice for resting and raising their cubs. Sea ice decline could open the Arctic to shipping and tourism, further disturbing Arctic habitats. Other threats are oil development and industrial pollution that reaches the Arctic through air and ocean currents.
Other animals at risk
Koalas live in the woodlands of Australia. Thick fur and skin make it difficult for them to adapt to rising temperatures. Increased CO2 in the air produces less protein in the eucalyptus leaves, forcing the Koala to search for other sources of food and, in times of high heat, water. On the ground, the slow moving Koalas are prey to wild dingoes and domestic dogs, or are hit by cars as they cross roads. Their habitats are also being destroyed by drought, bush fires and development.
The Shenandoah Salamander lives in an isolated, high altitude region of Shenandoah National Park, USA. Like all amphibians who have thin, permeable skin, salamanders are very sensitive to environmental changes. If average temperatures or moisture increase, this salamander, restricted to its cool micro-climate, will be at risk—having no place to go but to lower, even warmer, altitudes. If warming causes other species of lower altitude salamanders to migrate higher, they will compete for the Shenandoah's cool, moist habitats.
The breeding habitat of Bicknell's Thrush is primarily restricted to mountain spruce forests of Northeastern US and Canada. They winter in the Caribbean and spring migration north is cued by day length. If spring arrives early in the north and the Thrushes arrive at their normal time, the abundance of food—insects and fruit—would already have peaked. Warming temperatures also produce an abundance of spruce and fir cones—feeding and increasing the population of Red Squirrels, a main predator of eggs and chicks. Storms and hurricanes threaten the Thrush's tropical winter habitat. Pollution, logging and deforestation threaten their spring breeding and winter habitats.
In winter, the sun doesn't rise south of the Antarctic Circle. If Antarctic sea ice decreases and does not extend far enough to the north, Adélie Penguins, during their winter migration, may not be able to reach the sunlight needed to navigate, hunt and avoid predators—they won't dive in the dark. Other threats are oil pollution, fishing and disturbance of colonies from research stations and aircraft.