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Can’t Handle the Heat – Tropical Lizards in Peril

A paper published by the Royal Society, the UK’s academy of science, has highlighted concern for tropical lizards who are at risk from rising temperatures caused by Climate Change. Raymond Huey, a professor of biology at the University of Washington stated in the Royal Society paper published on the 4th March that as lizards living in the tropical rainforests are already living in warm temperatures, the lizards’ intolerance of heat could push the species “over the edge”.

Although lizards of various species live in different countries and therefore different climates across the globe, these particular lizards, including the species Anolis gundlachi, are considered to be at particular risk. This is because although lizards that live in different areas are used to and are established within climates where they see temperature ranges throughout the year that vary by as much as 40°, the climate that Anolis gundlachi and the like are used to varies by a much narrower margin. Therefore any change to this is thought to be much more significant, and much more likely to put the species under stress.

This prediction is based on research that Huey undertook during the 1970s studying native lizards’ activities in relation to their body temperature. Although this research was not motivated by climate change, Huey believes the information gained from the research would accurately inform this current concern. Some have argued that the lizards may be able to evolve to adapt to the warmer temperatures, however Huey is not convinced that this would be the case, stating “we don’t think it’s likely because of their long generation times.”


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