Irreplaceable: Wildlife in a Warming World

Irreplaceable Species List

Irreplaceable Wildlife: Individual Species


The prehistoric-looking American crocodile insists on warm weather, and during its 70-year lifespan lives only at the southernmost tip of Florida in the mangrove swamps of the Everglades.
A high-pitched whistle from a rocky pile signals you are looking at a house belonging to the American pika. Nicknamed the “rock rabbit,” the tiny pika is the size of a tennis ball with babies...
What Antarctic krill lack in size (they are usually just a few centimeters long), they make up for in sheer abundance. These shrimp-like crustaceans are so numerous, they play a vital role in...
The hardy Arctic fox can survive polar temperatures of minus 58 degrees Fahrenheit, sometimes tunneling into the snow for shelter. The fox’s white winter fur serves as camouflage, turning...
An enduring New England icon, the Atlantic lobster has long been a mainstay of local economies and livelihoods along the northeast coast. These highly-prized crustaceans can live up to 50...
A white whale, the extremely social beluga lives in pods that usually have about a dozen members but may include hundreds. Dubbed a “sea canary,” the beluga has the loudest song of any...
Caribou in North America are really wild reindeer. Sometimes running 50 miles per hour, caribou migrate more than 3,000 miles every year—farther than any other land animal—on special, large...
The “rainforests of the ocean,” coral reefs are biodiversity hotspots that make up less than one percent of the marine environment but are home to 25 percent of the ocean’s marine...
Standing like a sentinel in the high deserts of the West, desert bighorn sheep are an impressive sight to behold. True to their name, the horns of adult males can weigh up to 30 pounds!
With elaborate shell patterns, spotted skin, and mouths that curve upward in an ever-present smile, diamondback terrapins are “homebodies” that rarely move from one tidal area to another,...
By far the world’s largest penguin species, emperor penguins can grow up to 4 feet tall and weigh more than 80 pounds! It is the only Antarctic animal that breeds during the harsh winter,...
The Florida panther needs space. Restricted to southwestern Florida, breeding pairs of these highly endangered big cats need 200 square miles to roam and hunt.
Often longer than a school bus and weighing 30 to 40 tons, gray whales move in large pods visible from the California coast as they travel more than 12,000 miles from Mexico to Alaska and...
Green sea turtles spend much of their 80-year lifespan enjoying tropical beaches and sunbathing on shore. While underwater, these massive turtles swim gracefully through the shallow, warm...
Identifiable by its distinctive hump, the mighty grizzly bear has a terrific sense of smell and can run at speeds up to 30 miles per hour.
The Hawaiian monk seal, with folds of skin reminiscent of a monk’s hood, dives hundreds of feet to feed -- nearly the length of one or two football fields!
Set your sights on a polar bear and look up. You might see ivory gulls floating above, following the polar bear in hopes of making its leftovers their next meal. A favorite of bird watchers...
According to the story, Joshua trees were named by pioneers crossing the Mojave Desert who thought the tree’s outstretched branches resembled the prophet Joshua waving them on to the promised...
Rare in the lower 48 states, the shy, stealthy lynx stalks the mountainous forests of the northern United States for rabbits, birds, and other small prey.
The striking monarch butterfly is tougher than it looks: while its bright colors serve as a warning to predators—“Watch out! I’m poisonous!”—the tiny flier also undertakes an incredible 2,000...
While a member of the deer family, the impressive moose is far from delicate. Sporting the largest antlers in the world, a moose can be more than six feet tall at the shoulder and weigh 1,800...
One must ascend great heights to find mountain goats in their subalpine meadow habitat. More properly known as goat-antelopes, the mountain goat nimbly scales heights impossible for most...
If you were to pick up one of these small (two to three inch) frogs to see its striking yellow legs and underbelly, you’d smell … garlic? Emitting a pungent odor when disturbed, the mountain...
The narwhal is an Arctic species that forages along ice edges and migrates along the coast of Greenland during the winter.
Reaching more than six feet long and weighing up to 1,500 pounds, the giant northern bluefin tuna has the unique ability among fish to regulate its body temperature.
The life of the Virginia northern flying squirrel seems simple enough: Eat fungus. Glide up to 100 feet at a time. Repeat. One subspecies, the Virginia northern flying squirrel, is found only...
With its graceful long neck and pointed tail feathers, the fast-flying northern pintail duck is nicknamed “greyhound of the air.” Nearly all of North America’s pintail ducks breed in the...
Ozark zigzag salamanders are part of a large salamander family that share one thing in common: they have no lungs. Instead, they breathe through their skin and mouths.
Pacific salmon have been the lifeblood of generations of fishermen and are an integral part of communities up and down the coast. Adapted for cold water, salmon cannot survive prolonged...
With a series of characteristic peeps, the piping plover lays two to four eggs at a time, tucking them in sandy beaches and gravel along the Atlantic coast, the shores of the Great Lakes, and...
A symbol of the Arctic, polar bears are the world’s largest land predator and biggest member of the bear family.
Spectacled eiders are Arctic birds named for the black rims around their eyes which resemble old-fashioned spectacles. Through these spectacles, eiders seek out shellfish and clams to feast...
The sugar maple lends its lively fall colors to New England and provides sap to make delicious maple syrup. These trees have thrived in New England and in parts of the Midwest, where the...
“I’ll be back soon!” Mother walruses often leave their pups on floating sea ice to rest while they dive to forage for food. Although 2,000 pounds may seem like a lot of walrus to move around...
Reaching four feet tall and filled with honey sweet nectar, this beautiful white orchid waits until dusk to release its fragrance, attracting pollinators such as the hawkmoth, whose tongue is...
The tallest birds in North America, whooping cranes establish lifelong mates and maintain their bonds through courtship dances and displays.
Deep snowpack means many things to a wolverine mother looking for a den to raise her kits. Warmth. Safety. Security. Wolverines den in snow tunnels up to 175 feet long, under snow that must...