Wanted for the murder of lizards: Climate Change

Published on: Author: jgonza49 Leave a comment

“Global temperature increases over the next century are predicted to contribute to the extinction of a number of taxa, including up to 40 % of all lizard species.” Frightening way to start a scientific paper, but even more so when you realize the drastic implications that this study brings about.  

By using a cross examination of body size, microhabitat, and the type of species, George Brusch, the principle scientist involved in the research, was able to determine the critical thermal maximum of ten species found in lowland tropical forests of Costa Rica. The critical thermal maximum, or CTmax, is the thermal limit of each particular species of lizard. The study took place in La Selva Biological Station  and incorporated the projected temperature increases for 2080 to quantify the risk of each particular lizard of extinction. The study found that 4 of the 10 species examined “are at serious risk of lowland extirpation and 3 others might also be at risk under the highest predicted temperature-increase models.”

So why is this study important and what does influence it have on global ecology? Well, for starters lizards play a central role in food webs. Not only do they serve as an important food source for numerous predators, but they also function as population control of insects and pests. More so, the threat of climate change is once again realized to impact numerous species in yet another way. If we want to stop the disastrous consequences of climate change, we must take preventative measures now, not only to save the lizards, but also to save the world.

Brusch, George A., Emily N. Taylor, and Steven M. Whitfield. “Turn up the Heat: Thermal Tolerances of Lizards at La Selva, Costa Rica.” Oecologia 180.2 (2015): 325-34. Web. 8 June 2017.

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