Lizards Across North America Facing Potential Population Decline Due to Climate Change, Deforestation [Study]

Lizards across North America are facing population decline due to deforestation and climate change, wherein 8 in every 10 lizards or 1 in 5 species could start to lose their numbers. This is according to a new study by scientists from the United States and Israel, who found that most of the said reptiles living in the sub-continent could suffer severe ecological disaster in the coming decades until the end of the century.

As the climate crisis alters weather patterns and intensifies devastating natural disasters, most lizards across the region will have a hard time breeding or surviving these environmental risks. The new research paper explains since lizards are cold-blooded, some of their species rely on climbing trees to receive the warmth of the Sun. In addition, the North American lizards use leaves by sitting on them to warm themselves.

Lizard Population Decline

Lizards Across North America Facing Potential Population Decline Due to Climate Change, Deforestation [Study]
(Photo : Photo by Jelle Taman on Unsplash)

In the study published in the journal Nature Climate Change, researchers from the University of Colorado, Boulder in the US and Tel Aviv University in Israel found that the North American lizard population decline is caused by deforestation and climate change. The joint research team asserts that these two factors could negatively impact 84% of the lizards in North America by the end of the 21st century.

In their research paper entitled “Deforestation poses deleterious effects to tree-climbing species under climate change,” the team emphasized the major threat of habitat loss to global biodiversity. In this context, the US and Israel researchers cited many studies have explored the possible damages of deforestation to animal populations but added few of them have considered how tree loss may impact species under climate change.

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Deforestation and Climate Change

Lizards are vulnerable to deforestation and climate change, unlike warm-blooded mammals that can maintain their body temperatures such as by sweating, according to a news release by the University of Colorado, Boulder on Tuesday, March 5. Based on their estimate, the team projects deforestation would accelerate North America’s lizard population decline by 18% during the said time period, which is short on a geological scale.

Furthermore, the scientific report about the lizards in North America used a biophysical approach; mainly by focusing on how tree loss might affect “semi-arboreal diurnal ectotherms (lizards)” under ongoing and expected climates in the future. Based on the data provided by the study, the research advocates for forest conservation and the integration of biophysical modeling and microhabitat aspects into conservation efforts.

Aside from climate change, deforestation is also driven by anthropogenic or human-induced activities like agricultural expansion, illegal logging, mining, and urbanization worldwide, according to Conservation International, a non-profit environmental organization. Since the 1960s, more than 50% of the world’s tropical forests, including Brazil’s Amazon rainforest in South America, have been destroyed by these activities.

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