Sea level rise will threaten land species

April 9, 2013 at 6:28 PM   |   Comments

VIENNA, April 9 (UPI) -- A predicted 3-foot rise in sea levels by century's end will leave many land animals at risk of extinction in Southeast Asia and Pacific regions, scientists say.

U.S. and European researchers said the risk of extinction is highest for species endemic to only on certain islands and already endangered species.

The researchers' study encompassed the entire Southeast Asian and Pacific region with more than 12,000 islands and the distribution of more than 3,000 vertebrate species of birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals.

Climate change models indicate many islands and atolls in the study region will lose large parts of their land area and some islands will even become completely submerged.

"Some Pacific atolls stand to lose one-third of their land area with sea level rise of just one meter, and the species living there would be seriously at risk," study author Florian Wetzel of the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna said. "In contrast, other volcanic island groups and their resident species will incur area losses of just a few percent."

The researchers said their study, one of the first to examine the potential impacts of a rising sea level on biodiversity, should lead to strong calls to take sea level increases into account when planning species conservation measures in the affected areas.

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