Global warming could produce all-female turtle colonies, reduced birth rates among whales and dolphins and marked changes in the migratory habits of birds, according to a government report released Thursday.
Biodiversity Minister Jim Knight said the report, titled "Climate Change and Migratory Species," was sobering.
The report, which was written by a group led by the British Trust for Ornithology, said climate change would be beneficial for some species but would force others into extinction. Species found in arctic and mountain habitats, like polar bears, are under the greatest threat as they are already at the limit of available habitats. Unlike animals that can move to cooler climates, these creatures have nowhere else to go.
The report said that rising sea levels caused by global warming had implications for a number of species: Thirty-two percent of beaches used by nesting turtles in the Caribbean could be lost with a rise in sea levels of just 50 centimeters (20 inches). Sex ratios of hatchling turtles are temperature dependent and increased warmth could potentially lead to all-female populations, the report said.
There could be losses in populations of whales, dolphins, dugongs and manatees as a result of a net loss of the shallow coastal areas where they like to bask and feed, the AP reports.
Many migratory birds use the Sahel region of Africa to refuel before making the northerly crossing of the Sahara Desert. "Decreased rainfall and overgrazing is causing increased desertification in this area, leading to declines in a number of species such as the Whitethroat," the report said.
"There is some scope for helping species adapt to climate change, but we need to find global solutions to help animals that swim, fly and walk thousands of miles each year," said Humphrey Crick of the British Trust for Ornithology. AM