By 2080, global warming could result in one-fifth of the world’s lizard species becoming extinct, a global study has found.
Even under the most optimistic scenarios for curbing carbon dioxide emissions, the analysis by an international team shows that one-fifth of the globe’s lizard populations, corresponding to 6% of all lizard species, may go extinct by 2050.
“We’ve committed ourselves to that,” says Barry Sinervo, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who led the study.
He and his colleagues found that climate change has already driven 12% of the populations of Mexico’s colourful Sceloporus lizards extinct since 1975.
If emissions continue at current levels, he predicts that by 2080, 39% of the world’s lizard populations will have vanished, corresponding to a 20% loss in species.
The study is published in Science this week.
It’s a stunning finding, says Raymond Huey, an evolutionary physiologist at the University of Washington, Seattle, who wasn’t part of the study team.
“Lizards are animals that should be very tolerant of climate warming,” he says.