On the Radio: Climate change shifts Iowa’s animal populations


As flood seasonality changes, Iowa's wood turtle population dwindles. About 77 remain in the state. Photo by Mike Jones, Flickr

Take a listen to this week’s radio segment – Climate change and Iowa’s wood turtle.

Think Iowa’s changing climate is harmless? Iowa’s endangered wood turtle would beg to differ – if it had vocal chords, that is.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

Iowa’s wood turtle is just one of many species in decline, due to changing climate, according to a report from UNI researchers Laura Jackson and Peter Berendzen.

There are just about 77 wood turtles left in Iowa – the species’ lowest-reported population. Iowa’s rivers now tend to flood more in the summer as their eggs incubate.

Iowa’s wildlife has gone extinct and evolved for millions of years, the report stated, but climate change will make that process more rapid and permanent.

According to the research, affected species will include:

  • Those that are rare, threatened or endangered;
  • Grassland nesting birds – like red-winged blackbirds, song sparrows and common yellowthroats;
  • Migrant birds like the bobolink or the Baltimore Oriole;
  • And turtles and amphibians – like the wood turtle – that are vulnerable to summer flooding.

For more information and to read the full report, visit IowaEnvironmentalFocus.org.

I’m Jerry Schnoor with the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research.

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