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Three California ecosystems endangered, report finds

January 5, 2011 |  5:12 pm

Newsierraq 

In a classic example of winning a sweepstakes you don’t want to be in, a report released Wednesday found that California has more endangered ecosystems than any other state, claiming three of the top 10 imperiled places.

The report, prepared by the Endangered Species Coalition, examined the effects of climate change on endangered species and came up with no surprises: Arctic Sea ice, shallow coral reefs and the Everglades.

California’s vulnerability was exposed in its deserts, the Sierra Nevada and the San Francisco Bay Delta.

The other ecosystems identified were the Hawaiian Islands, the Snake River Basin, the Greater Yellowstone region and the wetlands of the Gulf Coast.

The Mojave Desert is home to the pupfish and the Desert Tortoise, two species that are feeling the effects of higher temperatures and less precipitation. In the Sierra, earlier snow melt is devastating for amphibians. The report says that half the region’s 30 native species have declined. In the Delta -- where 12 of the region’s original 29 species are either extinct or endangered -- reduced water availability and fewer cold-water rivers are reducing the population of trout, salmon and smelt.

The report didn’t go much beyond identifying endangered places, but did call for reduction of greenhouse gas pollution, conservation of wild lands and strong enforcement of the Endangered Species Act.

The report ends with a mention of seven ecosystems that didn’t make the top 10 but are deeply in danger. In another tip of the hat to California, the entire West Coast is on the critical list.

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-- Julie Cart

Photo: Rain falls over Lower Pine Lake in the Sierra Nevada. Credit: Ken Hively /Los Angeles Times

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