Thursday, March 13, 2014

Reptiles Threatened by Climate Change

 “The BBC reported on a “global-scale study”, published in the journal Science, that found climate change could wipe out 20% of the world’s lizard species by 2080.” Lizards are just crossing the threshold for extinctions caused by climate change. Many species are now moving towards higher elevations because of the effects of climate change. 

One example are lizards. Lizards are sensitive to climate change because they take time and rest to regulate their body temperatures. Rising temperatures don’t allow lizards to dedicate more time to forage for food.  A higher elevation helps reptiles get to colder temperatures. Lizards are just a fraction of the types of reptiles; also included are snakes, crocodiles, turtles and tortoises. The extinction risk is different for all types of reptiles depending on their community and habitat. According to the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) 19% of the world’s reptiles are estimated to be threatened with extinction. Out of the 19% of reptiles threatened with extinction, 12% are classified as critically endangered, 41% endangered, and 47% vulnerable. The threats to reptiles need to be identified; habitat loss and over-harvesting are key conservation priorities in order to reverse the declines in the reptiles.  

Countries need to aim towards creating and maintaining environments that are natural to reptiles. Peru’s Manu National Park just set a new biodiversity record for the most diverse protected area for reptiles and amphibians.  The park is a lowland Amazonian rain forest, with high-altitude cloud forest and Andean grassland east of Cuzco. The park has more than 1,000 species of birds, 1,200 species of butterflies, and now 287 reptiles and amphibians. 

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