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Lizards facing mass extinction
Date:3/7/2013

University of Lincoln's School of Life Sciences is one of the few people in the world who works on the ecology and evolution of these lizard species. He said: "Lizards' reproduction is largely linked to climatic temperatures and viviparous species are usually found in cold environments. When reptiles initially moved to colder areas they needed to evolve emergency measures to succeed in these harsh places, and we believe viviparity is one of these key measures. However, this transition is mostly one-directional and unlikely to be reversed. Rapid changes in the environment's temperature would demand rapid re-adaptations to secure the species' survival. Through the research we found that over the next 50 years nearly half of the area where these species occur may disappear, causing multiple extinctions due to climate change."

Overall the conclusion is that although viviparity allowed lizards in the past to invade and adapt to live in cold environments, and was therefore a key trait for evolutionary success, it will now ultimately lead to multiple events of extinction.

Dr Pincheira-Donoso said: "These lizards are one of the most diverse groups of animals, and are able to adapt to remarkably diverse conditions. Unfortunately, a reduction in cold environments will reduce their areas of existence, which means that their successful evolutionary history may turn into a double-edged sword of adaptation. Their extinctions would be an atrocious loss to biodiversity."

The paper 'The evolution of viviparity opens opportunities for a lizard radiation but drives it into a climatic cul-de-sac' is published in the latest issue of the peer-reviewed journal Global Ecology and Biogeography and was funded by the Leverhulme Trust.


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Contact: Jo Bowler
j.bowler@exeter.ac.uk
44-139-272-2062
University of Exeter
Source:Eurekalert

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