Study finds lizards face extinction from climate change

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An international team of biologists have found an alarming pattern of population extinctions attributable to rising temperatures. If current trends continue, up to 20 percent of all lizard species are predicted to go extinct by 2080.

The study will be published on Friday in the journal Science.

The researchers, led by Barry Sinervo, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, conducted a major survey of lizard populations worldwide, studied the effects of rising temperatures on lizards, and used their findings to develop a predictive model of extinction risk.

Their model accurately predicted specific locations on five continents (North and South America, Europe, Africa, and Australia) where previously studied lizard populations have already gone locally extinct. Based on the predicted probabilities of local extinction, the probability of species extinction was estimated to be six percent by 2050 and 20 percent by 2080.

"We did a lot of work on the ground to validate the model and show that the extinctions are the result of climate change," Sinervo said. "None of these are due to habitat loss. These sites are not disturbed in any way, and most of them are in national parks or other protected areas."

Scientists say as the ongoing extinction of populations is directly related to climate change, limiting the carbon dioxide production that is driving global warming is crucial for avoiding the wave of lizard extinction in future.

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