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Florida Wildlife Under the Climate Change Microscope Today

October 1, 2008

Orlando, FL – Florida wildlife is getting a climate change checkup today at a conference of state and federal agencies, scientists and groups concerned about wild species. The goal is to document how changing weather patterns and temperatures affect them, and what can be done to help them adapt.

Conference co-chair Chuck Collins, with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, says this is the first time there has been a serious look taken at weather's effect on the state's critters. They are examining more than 575 species of wildlife, 200 species of freshwater fish and 500 species of saltwater fish.

"All of them have evolved around Florida's distinct environment, which is currently being threatened by climate change."

Collins points out almost 70 threatened or endangered species live in the Everglades alone, and they are among the most sensitive to changes in weather patterns.

Keynote Speaker Jean Brennan, senior climate scientist for Defenders of Wildlife, says most wildlife species have the ability to adapt, but wild animals need corridors and clear passageway, both on land and in the water, to be successful.

"Those species must travel. The only way for them to survive is if there is enough open area in which to move."

More information on the conference, "Florida's Wildlife: On the Front Line of Climate Change," is available on the internet at www.ces.fau.edu.

Deborah Smith/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - FL