One in five reptile species are in danger of extinction

According to NatureServe, Conservation International, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature, at least 21% of reptile species face extinction.

One in five reptile species are in danger of extinction

According to NatureServe, Conservation International, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature, at least 21% of reptile species face extinction. This is according to a global study of 10,196 reptile species that involved 961 scientists from 24 different countries. The journal Nature published the research. It shows that there are 1,829 threatened species. This represents 30% of species found in woodland environments and 15% in arid habitats.

According to the authors, reptiles are at risk from agriculture, deforestation and urban development, just like other tetrapods (vertebrates with four legs), which is why there isn't enough data on their vulnerability to climate change. The main surprise for the authors is the fact that reptiles are more benefitted by the protection strategies of birds, mammals, and amphibians than they had thought.

Salt marsh crocodile (Crocodylus palustris) can be found in the Indian subcontinent.

This is a good thing because many reptiles have been protected by the same efforts that were made to save the most well-known animals. Bruce Young, co-director of the study and chief zoologist at NatureServe, said habitat protection is crucial to protect reptiles and other vertebrates from agricultural activities and urban developments.

According to the authors, reptiles are endangered more than mammals or birds, but less than amphibians. Reptiles are more endangered than mammals and amphibians. With 57.9% of the species analyzed falling within these categories and 50% respectively, turtles and crocodiles are two of the most endangered. Southeast Asia, West Africa and the Caribbean are the regions with the highest concentrations of species at high risk.

Angonoka tortoise (Astrochelys yniphora) is endemic in the dry forests of northwestern Madagascar. /agjr

Australia is home to 10% species, most of which are endemic. The number of threatened species in Australia has increased by a third in the past 25 years. The first Australian scaly reptile to die - Emoia nativitatis, Christmas Island forest skink - was recorded. Two other species are now extinct in the wild: Cryptoblepharus, blue-tailed skink and Lister's gecko 'Lepidodactylus '-", highlights David Chapple (a Monash University biologist and co-author of this study).

Nicola J. Mitchell, a University of Western Australia biologist, said that Christmas Island's species are an example of "reptiles seriously affected by invasive predators". The recent collapse in reptile communities was caused by an invasive Asian wolf snake (Lycodon Capucinus). Captive breeding was successful and captive-bred bluetailed skinks from the Cocos-Keeling archipelago have been released to snake-free islands, located more than 1,000 km from Christmas Island.

The monk chameleon (Chamaeleo Monachus) is an endemic species of chameleon that lives on the island of Socotra between the Arabian Sea, and the Gulf of Aden. / Johannes Els

Mike Hoffmann, Zoological Society of London's head of wildlife recovery, said that reptiles range from genital-breathing turtles and chickpea-sized Chameleons. Co-author reminds us that many reptiles such as the tuatara or the pig-nosed tortoise are living fossils and their loss would not only result in the death of species that have played a special role in the ecosystem but also a loss of billions of years worth of history. evolutionary". The only remaining members of a Triassic lineage, which dates back between 250 and 200 millions years ago, are the tuataras. They can be found on several islands around New Zealand.

Patrick Fitze, a biologist from the CSIC's National Museum of Natural Sciences in (MNCN), said to this newspaper that "It's amazing that a study such as this has been done." The research's main conclusion, which states that reptiles are affected as other animals by human activity, was not surprising to this scientist who did not participate in it. It is not new. Animals depend on one another in ecosystems. Reptiles eat birds ...", this herpetologist recalls. She studies the factors that lead to the decline in animal populations.

Naterer's Gecko ('Tropiocolotes nattereri’), a species endemic in northeastern Africa, and western Asia. / Shai Meri

He says that land use changes cause a drastic change in ecosystems. However, the effects of climate change can be difficult to spot in nature before it is too late. He studies the effects of global climate change on the bog Lizard (Zootoca vipara) in his lab at the MNCN. "About which we know everything," he says. They were able to detect no effects of climate change on the reptiles under "super-controlled" laboratory conditions for four years. "Nothing statistically important." They were able to translate the subtle changes into a mathematical model for population dynamics and found that the population fell to less than half of its former level in less than 12 years. This is a significant decline.

MNCN researcher who was yesterday in the Aragonese Pyrenees to study lizards said that Spain is Europe's country with the highest biodiversity. This wealth cannot be maintained by changing the land's uses. Fitze says that biodiversity can only be maintained if habitats are protected. Climate change is another threat, and it is more serious.