New research from a study in Science claims that nearly 40% of all lizard populations, and 20% of species could become extinct by 2080, due to the effects of continuing climate change. The study uses basic biological models and observed patterns of extinction to model potential future extinction risks for lizard populations.
Interestingly, it is higher springtime temperatures that are causing problems for lizard populations, which are actually not as susceptible to climate change as their amphibian cousins. Typically, lizards resist thermal stress fairly well, but when a lizard needs to cool, it finds protection in the shade and and has less time to forage for food. Less time spent foraging means that the lizards’ energy reserves are spent more quickly.
24 of 200 previously documented populations of Mexican Scleroporus lizards have gone extinct, and extinction probability was linked to these increased springtime temperatures. Energy needs are highest in springtime when reproduction occurs, and if a lizard is stuck in the shade trying to keep cool, its reserves are spent too quickly without being replenished and the lizard will not survive.
This study is yet another in a continuing line of observations that point to climate change spelling much trouble for all types of animals.