The wolverine may not survive climate change in the contiguous United States, according to recent research. Greenhouse gas emissions will affect the wolverine’s habitat in northwestern United States. The climate will warm dramatically in that region says researcher Synte Peacock, who modelled three different CO2–emission scenarios.
This will lead, amongst others, to a spring with little or zero snow cover and increase of the average August temperature by 6 – 8 °C , by the end of the 21st century.
Wolverines are the largest mustelids, and one of the leastknown large carnivores of northern Eurasia and America. The animal is well-adapted to cold weather and deep snow packs. It is widely recognised that spring snow cover is essential for the wolverine to survive, as is summer-time temperature, which should not exceed an average of 22 °C.
So, unless the wolverine is able to very rapidly adapt to these warmer circumstances, it is unlikely that it will continue to survive in the contiguous U.S. under a high or moderate emissions scenario. Only the low emission scenario suggested circumstances which the wolverine could survive, but very drastic measures are necessary to create the dramatic cuts to emissions that are required.
Fortunately, the northwestern U.S. is just a minor part of the habitat range of the wolverine, but climate change will not only affect this part of the circumpolar area. Therefore, the wolverine population is threatened, while the overall trend already is one of retreat and declining populations.
(Sources: Projected 21st century climate change for wolverine habitats within the contiguous United States by Synte Peacock, 25.01.2011; The Encyclopedia of Mammals 2nd edition Vol. II, ed. D.W. Macdonald)