first victim – rusty blackbird

Refuge ecologist Ed Berg has documented the drying of wetlands on the Kenai Peninsula which apparently began in the late 1960s and accelerated during the 1990s. He attributes the decline of wetlands to warmer summer temperature, which increases evapotranspiration.

The drying of wetlands in the boreal forest areas of Alaska and Canada is predicted to have a detrimental effect on many species of wildlife. The rusty blackbird may be one of the first noticeable victims of this ecological change.Peninsula Clarion, 9 Jun 2006

first victim – Yellowstone grizzlies

Global Warming’s First Victims are the animals of course. Here, grizzly expert Doug Peacock makes the case for the Yellowstone grizzlies, whose food source, the whitebark pine has succumbed to beetle kill in a vast way, due to warm winters for just seven years. It’s a typical house of cards, with one piece falling and others in a textbook domino event. Environment II by Mark Andrew York, 23 May 2009

first victim – Bengal tiger

According a report by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), three-quarters of the region, a World Heritage site, could be underwater by the end of the century.

All it takes is a 45-centimeter (1.5-foot) rise in sea levels for the Bengal tiger, also referred to locally as the “man-eater,” to become one of the first victims of climate change. And if scientists’ predictions are right, it will not be the last.Spiegel Online, 23 Nov 2007

first victims – agricultural areas

There are agricultural areas that are vulnerable to crop-destroying drought or floods that could create serious problems of food and water insecurity. The UNFCC seems incapable of agreeing to adopt a 1.5 degree goal, which might save these first climate change victims.

Therefore a profound inequity exists: harm will be felt most severely by those least responsible for causing it. What will be done by way of mitigation and adaptation to help these first victims, and who will pay for the loss and damage they suffer?
Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), 5 Dec 2014

first victims – Adelie penguins (who don’t see well in the dark)

The Adelie penguin is regarded as an “indicator” species, an animal so delicately attuned to its environment that its survival is threatened as soon as something goes wrong. So as temperatures rise, Adelies are among the first to feel the effects, early victims of the devastating worldwide changes that scientists expect if the warming persists and intensifies.

But the die-offs scientists are seeing in the warmest areas of Antarctica are expected to spread as temperatures continue to rise. If the warming continues,Adelie researcher David Ainley said, the Adelies ultimately will go extinct — though it might take hundreds of years. The reason is simple, he said: “Penguins don’t see well in the dark.”
Chicago Tribune, 1 Jul 2007

see also – first victim

first victim – Cashel man (4,000 years ago)

He may have been among the first victims of climate change, sacrificed because of changing weather patterns 4,000 years ago. Cashel man, so named because of his discovery in a bog in Cashel, Co Laois in 2011, is the oldest bog body in the world and one of about 300 found in North West Europe.

A one-metre depth of peat can yield 1,000 years of history and analysis of fossilised amoebas by wetlands archaeologist Dr Ben Geary of UCC reveals a shift to a wetter, colder environment during the Bronze/Iron Age, where rainfall increased and weather cooled. For pre-historic tribes it was a disaster, destroying the harvest and leaving the community facing starvation.

Their solution, according to the theory is to kill the king, appease the gods and hope for a better harvest – an early response to climate change.
Irish Times, 28 Nov 2013

first victim – lemuroid ringtail possum

Scientists believe the white lemuroid ringtail possum is Australia’s first mammal on the brink of extinction under global warming. “They live on this tiny island in the sky,’’ said Australia’s James Cook University Vice-Chancellor Sandra Harding, speaking outside the World Association of Tropical Biology and Conservation conference in Cairns.

“It’s not the polar bear on the ice caps, but the white possum of the high-altitude tropical forests that is ecologically extinct, with just a few animals left, and facing complete extinction,’’ Ms Harding said.
Courier Mail, 23 Jul 2014

for new category – first victim

first victim – American pika

A small, mountain-dwelling, round-eared relative of the rabbit yesterday became the first mammal that scientists believe has fallen victim to climate change. The American pika, a hamster-sized creature that makes its home among piles of rocks at high altitudes in western America and south-western Canada, has become extinct at nearly one third of sites where it was once common.

A study in the US Journal of Mammology examined 25 sites in the Great Basin, an area between the Sierra Nevada and the Rocky Mountains. It found that pikas had apparently vanished from seven of the locations and blamed climate change.
The Telegraph (UK), 21 Aug 2003

for new category – first victim

first victim – forests

Forests are also among the first victims of climate change. As a general rule, forests are negatively affected by rising temperatures, changes in precipitation levels and extreme weather events. A general deterioration of forests will create a vicious cycle whereby CO2 emissions are likely to increase which in turn will result in greater deregulation of the climate and so on.
Climate change and biodiversity in the European Union overseas entities, Author Jérôme Petit, Guillaume Prudent, Publisher IUCN 2008, p25

first victims – penguins and turtles

Taiwanese artist Vincent J.F. Huang will again represent the South Pacific island nation of Tuvalu at the Venice Biennale this year, and highlight the issue of climate change with an art installation in Tuvalu’s national pavilion at the major international art exhibition.

His “Animal Delegates,” depicting some of the creatures that could be the first victims of global warming, such as penguins and turtles, were used to highlight the environmental crisis in Tuvalu, one of Taiwan’s 22 diplomatic allies.
The China Post, 24 Feb 2015

first victims – coral reefs and oysters

A recent report in Science magazine finds that the oceans are turning acidic at what may be the fastest pace in 300 million years, with potential severe consequences for marine ecosystems.

Among the first victims of ocean warming and acidification are coral reefs, because corals can form only within a narrow range of temperature and acidity of seawater. Oyster hatcheries are also affected, and have been referred to as “canaries in a coal mine” since they may predict effects on a wide range of ocean ecosystems as ocean acidification increases.
The Economics of Global Climate Change, by Jonathan M. Harris, Brian Roach and Anne-Marie Codur. Tufts University, Medford, MA 02155

first victim – frogs

Frogs could be the first victims of rising temperatures. In a recent study, scientists have examined the effects of climate change on amphibians…They found that if unpredictable changes in temperature were to occur, amphibians may not be able to escape quickly enough due to their small size. This is enough to threaten many salamanders, frogs and newts, who could find themselves stuck in unfavorable conditions along their travels.
National Wildlife Federation, 39 Sep 2011

first victims – birdseed factory, a holy lake in China, Baltic Sea fish and new born hedgehogs

A birdseed factory in Shropshire, a holy lake in China, Baltic Sea fish and new-born hedgehogs have emerged as the first tangible victims of climate change in the year which forecasters predicted this week would be the warmest on record.

The CJ Wild Bird Foods company near Shrewsbury has announced that the demand for its products has all but disappeared, because the mild winter had maintained an alternative supply of berries for finches, tits and other species.

The warmer environment is also contributing to the gradual disappearance of the vast Lake Qinghai, a holy site for Tibetans in the remote western province of Qinghai.

More evidence of the consequences of failure arrived yesterday from conservation groups who reported that climate change was causing the deaths of hundreds of baby hedgehogs, born out of season. Confused by the milder autumn months, the creatures are continuing to breed rather than hibernate. This is causing the death of the young who need to grow before they hibernate.

An indication of the effects of climate change on fish has also arrived this week, from a team of German scientists who warned that rising sea temperatures were killing off the eelpout. The fish, which lives in the North and Baltic seas, has been hit by warmer summers, which have increased its need for oxygen at the same time as the water’s oxygen levels have dropped.
The Independent, 6 Janury 2007

first victim – coqui frog

Climate change represents a real threat to the environment and, according to a study published on April 9 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, it has already made its first victim, namely the coqui frog, that could become extinct if the female animals do not alter their hearing in order to pick up the males’ changed chirps.

Rafael Joglar, professor of biology at the University of Puerto Rico added that, as temperatures rise, the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis causes fatal skin infections which could kill one of the territory’s symbols, namely the small brown tree frogs.
The Guardian, 10 Apr 2014

first victim – ouzel

Scottish scientists say global warming’s first major British wildlife victim is the ring ouzel — a close relative of the blackbird. Scientists told The Independent they fear higher temperatures in late summer, prompted by climate change, are causing the birds’ demise.

They just seem to be dying out rather than adapting and moving elsewhere, lead researcher Colin Beale told the newspaper. Although the effect of global warming has been observed on British wildlife, such as flowering times, the ring ouzel is the first case in which a whole species has been seen to be at risk, The Independent said.
Phys.org, 25 May 2006

first victim – Albadra banded snail

The Aldabra banded snail lived on the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean. Biologist Justin Gerlach of Oxford University says it had very pretty shell: dark, purplish blue with an orange band around. Smaller shells, once common, disappeared with the frequent long, hot summers.

He suspects — but cannot prove — that these bad summers are a side effect of global warming. If he’s right, then this snail has earned itself a grim distinction: It would be the first species in the modern era to become extinct as a direct result of climate change.
NPR, 8 Aug 2007

first victim – British seabird

Numbers of a British seabird have fallen so low that experts fear the breed could soon become the first victim of climate change. Conservationists say the decline is down to alterations to the marine environment brought on by climate change, with the North Sea’s food chain being ‘profoundly affected’. The population of Kittiwake has more than halved in the UK since the mid-1980s and the breeding numbers in Scotland have declined by almost two-thirds.
Daily Mail (UK), 23 Aug 2012

first victim – narwhal

The polar bear is indeed a more iconic animal than the narwhal and, on top of that, despite being classified as marine, we can see it mostly on land. This may explain why people have been focusing more on it than on other Arctic animals, when warning about the danger of extinction caused by global warming. With all this, a new research published in the Ecological Applications journal shows which species would be the first victim: the narwhal.

“What we wanted to do was look at the whole picture because there’s been a lot of attention on polar bears. We’re talking about a whole ecosystem. We’re talking about several different species that use ice extensively and are very vulnerable,” said co-author Ian Stirling, a polar bear and seal specialist for the Canadian government.
Softpedia, 13 May 2008

first victim – ribbon seal

The Center for Biological Diversity on Thursday filed a 91-page petition with the National Marine Fisheries Service seeking to list ribbon seals as threatened or endangered. The group says the classification is needed because sea ice is disappearing because of climate change brought on by humans.

“The Arctic is in crisis state from global warming,” said biologist Shaye Wolf, lead author of the petition. “An entire ecosystem is rapidly melting away, and the ribbon seal is poised to become the first victim of our failure to address global warming.”
Seattle Times, 22 Dec 2007