In response to the combined effects of a shifting climate, vegetation changes and ever-decreasing island size, many reptile populations perished.
To gain a clearer understanding of the past consequences of climate change, Johannes Foufopoulos (foo FOP oo los) and his colleagues calculated the population extinction rates of 35 reptile species—assorted lizards, snakes and turtles—from 87 Greek islands in the northeast Mediterranean Sea. The calculated extinction rates were based on the modern-day presence or absence of each species on islands that were connected to the mainland during the last ice age.
Foufopoulos and his colleagues found a striking pattern to the island extinctions. In most cases, reptile populations disappeared on the smallest islands first—the places where the habitat choices were most limited.
Especially hard hit were "habitat specialist" reptiles that required a narrow range of environmental conditions to survive. In addition, northern-dwelling species that required cool, moist conditions showed some of the highest extinction rates.
The study results appear in the January edition of American Naturalist.
The researchers conclude that a similar pattern of extinctions will emerge at various spots across the globe as the climate warms in the coming decades and centuries. In addition to adapting to a changing climate, plants and animals will be forced to traverse an increasingly fragmented natural landscape.In many places, small chunks of natural habitat are now surrounded by vast, inhospitable expanses of agricultural and urbanized land, just as those newly formed Aegean islands were surrounded by rising seas thousands of years ago.
In addition to Foufopoulos, the paper's authors are Anthony Ives of the University of Wisconsin and A. Marm Kilpatrick of the University of California, Santa Cruz.
"The lessons learned from the wave of reptile extinctions suggest that if species are to survive the global climate shift already underway, not only do humans have to set significantly more land aside for conservation, but these protected areas will also need to be connected through a network of habitat corridors that allow species migration," Foufopoulos said.
Over the last several decades, global warming has resulted in a poleward shift in the range of many birds, butterflies and other creatures. This shift to cooler climes—northward in the Northern Hemisphere and southward in the Southern Hemisphere—is expected to continue in the future as organisms seek out places where temperature and moisture levels permit their survival.
Funding for the project was provided through the University of Wisconsin's Department of Zoology, the University of Michigan, the Princeton Environmental Institute, the Cleveland Dodge Foundation and the U.S. National Science Foundation.
U-M Sustainability fosters a more sustainable world through collaborations across campus and beyond aimed at educating students, generating new knowledge, and minimizing our environmental footprint. Learn more at sustainability.umich.edu
Jim Erickson | EurekAlert!
Wandering greenhouse gas
16.03.2018 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung
Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System
14.03.2018 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung
Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...
On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...
The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...
At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.
When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...
At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.
Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...
16.03.2018 | Event News
13.03.2018 | Event News
08.03.2018 | Event News
16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences
16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
16.03.2018 | Life Sciences