PHOTOS: Ten U.S. Species Feeling Global Warming's Heat

PHOTOS: Ten U.S. Species Feeling Global Warming's Heat
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Before the United States' agricultural explosion, when tallgrass prairie stretched across the vast expanse of the Great Plains, native plants like the western prairie fringed orchid were far more commonplace.

Now classified as endangered by IUCN, this species survives only in isolated spots, including "depressions left behind when glaciers retreated from the Plains 10,000 years ago. Seasonally filled with rain, the holes become wetlands of the type favored by the orchids.

But many climate models predict erratic rainfall patterns due to global warming, increasing chances of both spring flooding and summer droughts. Each extreme could heavily stress these orchids and allow hardier, invasive plants to displace this American original, the Endangered Species Coalition report says.
—Photograph courtesy Welby R. Smith, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
 
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