More than a fifth of reptile species globally are threatened with extinction, with those living in forests at much greater risk than in arid areas, a new study says.
In the most comprehensive extinction risk assessment ever performed on reptiles, researchers found that up to 21.1% of all known species are at risk.
“It just overwhelms the number of species that we see as endangered,” said study co-author Neil Cox. The researchers published their findings on April 27 in the journal Nature.
Prior to this new study, there had been no formal attempt to determine how many reptile species were endangered. Instead, conservationists rely on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Red List of Threatened Speciesprovides at-risk status of birds, mammals and amphibians.
Using Red Book criteria, the researchers discovered 1,829 of the 10,196 vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered reptile species – a total of 21.1% of the species. known.
They also found that 57.9% of turtles and 50% of crocodiles are threatened; Overall, 40.7% of amphibians, 25.4% of mammals and 13.6% of bird species are considered threatened by the IUCN, according to the Red Book.
The global study was carried out over 15 years with the help of 961 researchers representing 24 countries on six continents.
For this study, researchers evaluated existing surveys and datasets on turtles, crocodiles, lizards, snakes, and tuatara in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australia, the Caribbean, and Asia. Europe and Oceania. Tuataras are endemic to New Zealand and are considered the last survivors of a group of reptiles that may “have originated in the Triassic period, according to the New Zealand Department of Conservation.
The authors say the reptiles are threatened globally by agriculture, logging, urban development and invasive species. This would explain why the researchers found that 30 percent of reptiles that live in forests are at risk of extinction compared with 14 percent of reptiles that live in arid habitats, the authors said.
The researchers also found that threatened reptiles are concentrated in Southeast Asia, West Africa, northern Madagascar, the Northern Andes and the Caribbean – a finding that has allowed conservationists to focus their efforts on where the need is greatest.
The study authors also narrowed down the main threats to different groups of reptiles. For example, the island-dwelling lizards are threatened by predators that have been brought there by humans. When comparing hunting and poaching, the IUCN says that are the main threats to turtles and crocodiles.
How climate change is threatening reptiles is not known for certain due to a lack of long-term studies, the authors say. However, they wrote in the paper that climate change is a “potential threat” because it reduces the window when temperatures are right for cold-blooded animals to feed, and it could also alter the sex ratio of the offspring in the species identified. according to temperature.
Sean T. O’Brien, President and CEO of NatureServe, who led the research in collaboration with IUCN, said: “Reptiles are not often used to inspire conservation action, but they are fascinating creatures and play an integral role in the ecosystems of the planet,” Conservation International said in a statement. We all benefit from their role in controlling pests and preying on birds and other animals. “
https://www.livescience.com/extinction-threatens-one-fifth-reptile-species Extinction threatens one in five reptile species