Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Climate Change Threatens the Iberian Lynx

Iberian lynx

It has been recently announced that the Iberian lynx is under threat from climate change. A new international study has found that the critically endangered cat could be driven to extinction within fifty years, despite important continuous conservation efforts. Researchers stated that the impact of climate change must be included in strategies to reintroduce the lynx to new habitats, in order to save the species. Present-day management efforts could be pointless if the linked effects of climate change, land use, and prey abundance on population changes of the Iberian lynx are not taken into consideration. Despite the evidence of increase in lynx numbers in the past decades due to intensive management, researchers warn that current conservation strategies could buy just a few ten years before the cat becomes extinct. They stated that the study is the most absolute conservation-management model yet cultivated of the effects of climate change on predator and its prey. They further added that the present increase in numbers of the lynx indicates that accelerated management of habitat and rabbit populations have worked as effective temporary conservation strategies. However, a small population size means that the species is still under threat and prone to future declines in population. This also means that the species is very vulnerable to changes in habitat quality or changes in prey abundance due to climate change.

I very much hope that various conservation groups involved in an effort to save the Iberian lynx will take into consideration about the threat of climate change, and incorporate that into their methods in order to save the species from extinction. The current methods that are being used are only temporary solutions to ensure the survival of this critically endangered cat. Most of these strategies included habitat management, reduction in human activity, and recently reintroduction of the lynx in appropriate areas where it has lived. But now, with climate change in focus, the conservation efforts in saving the Iberian lynx are going to change in some degree. For example, studies by researchers have shown that habitat in the southwestern part of the Iberian Peninsula, which houses two existing populations of Iberian lynx, is most likely to be unfavorable by the middle of this century. In order to ensure the survival of the species on the long run, it has been suggested that peninsular regions at higher altitudes and latitudes would be suitable for the lynx.

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