island conservation nz climate change wildlife

Climate Change Threatens New Zealand Wildlife

As climate change progresses, the threat of invasive species will also grow.

Island wildlife face growing threats from invasive species. One factor that will play an increasingly important role is climate change. Climate change has been proving favorable to invasive species–and disastrous to native wildlife around the world.

island conservation New Zealand kaka

The Endangered Kākā is threatened by invasive rats. Credit: Buffy May

The impacts of climate change are becoming increasingly clear in places such as Palmerston North, New Zealand, which had its hottest year on record in 2016. Forest and Bird senior media advisor Megan Hubscher, explained:

Previously when the climate has changed our native species have been able to adapt, by shifting their ranges. But in the Manawatu the landscape has changed so much – we’ve removed forests, built roads and cities, destroyed wetlands – that they can’t do this anymore.

In New Zealand, invasive species are a well-known threat, but experts expect rising temperatures to benefit rats and hedgehogs while native species suffer. Horizons Regional Council biodiversity coordinator Aaron Madden illustrates the concerns:

Previously, harsh winters with lots of frosts have kept [non-native species] out of the Manawatu-Wanganui Region or limited their impact if they have managed to establish here. Milder winters in our region will allow more of them to invade and flourish.

Climate change will impact native plant and animal species immediately and in the long run. Understanding these impacts and removing invasive species promptly and effectively are key to protecting the native wildlife now facing a changing climate.

Featured photo: New Zealand Forest. Credit: Malcolm Peacey


About Emily Heber

Emily is a recent graduate from UC Santa Barbara with a BS in Zoology. As a student, she discovered that she had a passion for the conservation of endangered species and their ecosystems. Her background in informal education has allowed her the opportunity to share her passion for animals with others, something she seeks to continue doing while working with the communication team. In her spare time, Emily enjoys exploring the amazing hiking trails found in Santa Cruz and tries to SCUBA dive whenever possible. Emily is excited to join the Island Conservation team and to help share the amazing work that is being done here.

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