+ North American Mammals Physical Environment By: Amy Leonard and Kevan Wright
+ Climate North America embraces every climatic zone, from tropical rain forest and savanna on the lowlands of Central America to areas of permanent ice cap in central Greenland. Subarctic and tundra climates prevail in Northern Canada and Northern Alaska Desert and semiarid conditions are found in interior regions cut off by high mountains from rain-bearing westerly winds
+ Water Many Lakes and Rivers Great Lakes Mississippi River St. Johns River Atlantic Ocean and Pacific Ocean border the continent Swamps/Marshes/Everglades
+ Jaguar Endangered in Arizona, California, Central and South America, Louisiana, Mexico, New Mexico, and Texas Populations have declined mainly due to hunting for its beautiful coat in the 1960s and 1970s Today, habitat loss is due mainly to the clearing of forests Some poaching still occurs
+ Effect on other species Jaguars becoming extinct is effecting other species because they are an indicator species. Jaguars need a lot of living space, and if an area of forest has a healthy population of such animals, then we can be pretty sure that the whole forest community is doing well. If Jaguars become extinct, we will lose our indicator as to how well a forest ecosystem is doing.
+ What are we doing to help? We are working to protect northern jaguars in the core of their range through on-the-ground and through the establishing a Northern Jaguar Reserve. We are also building local support for conservation, minimizing predator/livestock conflicts and implementing programs to change the local communitys perception of the jaguar from a liability to an asset.
+ American Bison Endangered in Canada Can weigh over 1950 lbs Largest mammal in North America Population was over 160,000, but was reduced to less than 250 by 1900 due to: Hunting Diseases Populations have recovered since the 1920s to a total population of 9000 due to conservation efforts by Canadian conservationists
+ Effect on Environment Bison play a keystone role in grassland ecosystem health Grazing by bison increases native plant and wildlife diversity Nutrient cycling benefits plant growth and species distribution Bison wallows create a unique habitat Bison carcasses fertilize soil The loss of Bison would eliminate all these advantages and negatively effect the environment they were once a part of
+ Gray Wolf Found in Mexico and the U.S. Largest of the canines 7000 to 9000 wolves in Alaska More than 3500 in the lower 48 states Once was over 2 million Main threats: Hunting and trapping because it was thought of as a nuisance Habitat loss due to human encroachment into wolf territories The gray wolf population was almost completely wiped out, but the gray wolf is now legally protected
+ Gray Wolves Impact Elk Wolves are altering the abundance, distribution, group sizes, movements and vigilance of elk. There are some indications that these interactions may be causing new growth in willows as elk are kept on the move by wolves and don’t stay to browse in any one area very long Without wolves, elk would flourish in one particular area and not be forced to migrate
+ Yellowstone National Park Reintroduce Grey Wolves Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho reintroduced grey wolves. “There will be no land use restrictions for wolves after six packs are established. State and tribal wildlife agencies are encouraged to lead wolf management outside national parks and national wildlife refuges.” This reintroduction resulted in wolf population recovery in and around Yellowstone National Park and in central Idaho by 2002.
+ Cougar Also known as Puma or Mountain Lion Found in North, Central, and South America Over 20 subspecies Can kill prey up to seven times their body weight Has made a dramatic recovery with over 30,000 in the US alone The main cause of decline is loss of habitat Only 30 to 50 Florida panthers remain in the wild today
+ Environmental Effects Cougar Predation Key To Ecosystem HealthScienceDaily (Oct. 24, 2006) — “The general disappearance of cougars from a portion of Zion National Park in the past 70 years has allowed deer populations to dramatically increase, leading to severe ecological damage, loss of cottonwood trees, eroding streambanks, and declining biodiversity.”
+ The Cougar Fund “The Cougar Fund was founded to help ensure the conservation and protection of cougars throughout their range in the United States and the rest of the Western Hemisphere. Scientific research has shown us that healthy cougar populations help to conserve healthy landscapes and the biodiversity that enrich and sustain human life...Conserving healthy and well-connected cougar populations not only helps us fulfill our moral obligation to protect nature but also yields immeasurable benefits to humans.”
+ Bighorn Sheep Found in British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California, Nevada, Utah, and North Dakota There are an estimated 10,500 bighorn sheep left in the wild in California Primary threats: unregulated or illegal hunting predation by mountain lions and coyotes disease
+ Mexican Brown Bear Once found in Mexico and southern United States Said to be possibly extinct The main cause of decline is a dramatic reduction of habitat due to human settlement Hunted for sport and in some areas are killed because they are believed to be dangerous to humans and a threat to livestock
+ Giant Kangaroo Rat Found in California 1/20 species of kangaroo rats Is only found in one area of less than five square miles between the Carrizo Plain and the city of Taft, in west-central California It is legally protected Threatened by habitat loss to agricultural development
+ Mantled Howler Monkey Endangered from Mexico to South America Threatened by habitat destruction, rainforest fragmentation and natural disasters It is legally protected, and about 1300 individuals can be found in protected areas
+ Steller Sea Lion Endangered in Alaska, California, Canada, North Pacific Ocean, Oregon, and Washington Numbers have declined because of : Accidental capture in fishnets Loss of food source to fishermen, and hunting Some are shot each year by fishermen who consider them competition or pests to the fishing industry This species is now legally protected by the United States, and intentional killing of any Steller sea-lion is prohibited
+ Interview with Donna Leonard Click to hear interview