Navigation Links
Ice-age reptile extinctions provide a glimpse of likely responses to human-caused climate change
Date:12/9/2010

ANN ARBOR, Mich.---A wave of reptile extinctions on the Greek islands over the past 15,000 years may offer a preview of the way plants and animals will respond as the world rapidly warms due to human-caused climate change, according to a University of Michigan ecologist and his colleagues.

The Greek island extinctions also highlight the critical importance of preserving habitat corridors that will enable plants and animals to migrate in response to climate change, thereby maximizing their chances of survival.

As the climate warmed at the tail end of the last ice age, sea levels rose and formed scores of Aegean islands that had formerly been part of the Greek mainland. At the same time, cool and moist forested areas dwindled as aridity spread through the region.

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 (yo HOHN ess, foo FOP oo lus) 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.

"The widespread fragmentation of natural habitats greatly exacerbates the effects of climate change and undermines the ability of species to adapt to the new conditions," said Foufopoulos, an associate professor at the U-M School of Natural Resources and Environment and the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

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.


'/>"/>

Contact: Jim Erickson
ericksn@umich.edu
734-647-1842
University of Michigan
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Rare 95 million-year-old flying reptile Aetodactylus halli is new pterosaur genus, species
2. Rescue missions underway to save Haitis species from mass extinctions
3. Paleontologists find extinction rates higher in open-ocean settings during mass extinctions
4. Clemson researchers say algae key to mass extinctionss
5. Evidence of the Lost World -- did dinosaurs survive the end Cretaceous extinctions?
6. UGA study reveals ecosystem-level consequences of frog extinctions
7. Mass extinctions and the evolution of dinosaurs
8. In the lab, engineers novel liquid provides a solid fix for broken bones
9. Bioengineers provide adult stem cells with simultaneous chemical, electrical and mechanical cues
10. Research provides new leads in the case against drug-resistant biofilms
11. Global Leaders Combine Forces to Provide Identity Security Documents for INTERPOL
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Ice-age reptile extinctions provide a glimpse of likely responses to human-caused climate change
(Date:3/20/2017)... -- At this year,s CeBIT Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel ... Chancellor came to the DERMALOG stand together with the Japanese Prime Minster ... country. At the largest German biometrics company the two government leaders could ... recognition as well as DERMALOG´s multi-biometrics system.   ... ...
(Date:3/13/2017)... Future of security: Biometric Face Matching software  Continue ... ... to match face pictures against each other or against large databases. The recognition ... ... software for biometric Face Matching on the market. The speed is at 100 ...
(Date:3/7/2017)... March 7, 2017 Brandwatch , the leading social ... The Prince,s Trust to uncover insights to support its reporting, ... The UK,s leading youth charity will be using Brandwatch ... and get a better understanding of the topics and issues that ... ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:3/28/2017)... ... 2017 , ... Mass spectrometry is becoming more widely for clinical testing and ... its potential to perform challenging analyses in complex matrices and sample types. While mass ... for it to be routinely used for medical testing. , In this ...
(Date:3/28/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... March 28, 2017 , ... ... time members of the Modular Building Institute (MBI), an international modular trade organization, ... the permanent modular category for the Pagliuca Life Lab at Harvard University. The ...
(Date:3/28/2017)... 2017  The National Pharmaceutical Council (NPC) today announced ... research organization as its newest member. David Cox ... North America ), will serve as his ... "We,re pleased to have Ipsen and Dr. Cox join ... . "We welcome their insights in helping us identify ...
(Date:3/28/2017)... ... 2017 , ... LabKey and collaborator Just Biotherapeutics, Inc. (Just) ... LabKey Biologics . Built in collaboration with Just and designed with input from ... research teams tools for biological entity registration, assay data integration, and workflow management ...
Breaking Biology Technology: