Lizard Species Going Extinct Rapidly from Climate Change

lizard species going extinct from global warming

12% of Mexican lizards have gone extinct from global warming in the past 25 years, 4% have gone extinct worldwide, and 39% are expected to go extinct worldwide from global warming by 2080.

I’ve written on lizards going extinct from climate change in the past, and I’m sure others have as well since theoretical models predict that 20% of lizard species will go extinct from climate change. A scientific paper out this year not only confirms that they will go extinct, but shows that they already are, and that only 20% going extinct would be a good thing.

lizard species going extinct from climate change

The paper, Erosion of Lizard Diversity by Climate Change and Altered Thermal Niches (Sinervo 2010), compares global observations of 48 Mexican lizard species from 1975 to 2009. The evidence is clear — lizard species are already rapidly going extinct.

Since 1975, 12% of lizard species in the 200 Mexican sites studied have gone extinct. Local extinctions correlated with weather station data, as would have been expected.

You would think that lizards and other animals could survive by either adapting to a hotter climate or migrating. The first is too hard to do for most species, because the world is warming too fast. The latter, when possible, amplifies extinction of other species as unfamiliar, invasive move in.

lizard species going extinct global warming

This all leaves a pretty bleak future for many species. Lizards have already crossed a key threshold, it seems, and who knows how many more years of extreme CO2 emissions and rapid warming we will see before things turn around.

As John Cook of Skeptical Science points out, the fact that temperature lags CO2 emissions means temperatures will rise even long after we cut emissions — “if we manage to reduce CO2 emissions over the next few decades, this will reduce the number of species extinctions in 2080 but have little effect on the extinctions by 2050. A slow down in global warming will lag atmospheric CO2 levels by decades.” Additionally, as I discussed this last weekend, there are feedback loops that make warming cause CO2 emissions and then CO2 emissions again cause warming. Not a bright future.

lizard species iguana

In the case of lizards, the scientists of the study above estimate that 4% of lizard species worldwide went extinct from 1975 to today and they predict that 39% will go extinct by 2080.

via Skeptical Science/Climate Progress

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Photo Credits: motleypixel via flickr; Jake Gold via flickr; Vicki’s Nature via flickr; Stuck in Customs via flickr

10 thoughts on “Lizard Species Going Extinct Rapidly from Climate Change”

  1. Too many people who won’t go extinct and too many animals that will. Clearly we need to address the first issue of overpopulation but it seems to be considered politically incorrect therefore we are doomed to be overcrowded…until an epidemic does it for us.

  2. A friend of mine got my kids a lizard and I dont know what kind of lizard it is,does anyone know if there is a website or something that I can go to in order to find out what kind it is so that I can Find the proper care and such for it/ If anyone has any ideas please email me at [email protected] and entitle the subject Lizard. Thanks hope someone can help

  3. Green Anoles, shown in three of your photos, are not going extinct. They live all over the US and anywhere with a moderate climate. We have a dozen living in our shrubs in suburban Texas.

    1. I agree that photos of non-threatened lizard species shouldnt have been used, but as Zachary mentioned, they are referring to lizard species as a group.

      On a side note, Green Anoles are only found in the southeastern United States, and not throughout the country.

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