A new study in the journal Biodiversity Conservation, Bickford, et al., Impacts of Climate Change on Amphibians and Reptiles of Southeast Asia, 19 Biodiversity Conservation 1043-1062 (2010) (subscription required),
Among the take-aways from the article:
- Temperatures in the region could rise 6C; this would make migrations for species involving latitude or elevation extremely difficult;
- Most islands in Southeast Asia lack the area for latitudinal or altitudinal shift, likely resulting in amphibian and reptile extinctions;
- Thermal optima for most amphibian and reptile species in the region will likely be exceeded this century, with potentially serious ramifications, including declines in mating success; declines in swimming and evasion performance; distributional shifts that will increase inter-species competition; and changes in sex ratio. The prospects in terms of this latter impact is most startling, with the study concluding that “all reptiles and some amphibians are potentially vulnerable to becoming single sex populations within the next 100 years;”
- Reductions in precipitation in the region will also have serious implications for many species, including reductions in breeding cues and available breeding sites; declines in reproductive success; and reductions in food sources. The latter impact may be exacerbated because projected temperature increases will increase metabolic rates of ectotherms by 10-75%, increasing caloric uptake;
- Specific research needs in the future include:
- Large-scale monitoring programs at high impact sites;
- Establishment of applied programs to establish biodiversity corridors between protected areas;
- Development of additional capacity for regional zoos and parks to house and care for threatened species until their habitat can be restored
- Efforts should be made to ameliorate other impacts on amphibian and reptile species, e.g. developing reusable, less toxic products, changes in land use, and education programs.
I’m often asked by my students when we cover potential adaptation responses to climate change whether there are any realistic options in the context of threatened species or ecosystems. This article is an excellent case study of some of those potential responses, as well as outlining many of the potential impacts on species that will occur throughout the world. It’s well written and not freighted with arcane biological terms, so it would suit either an undergraduate or graduate level course.