Lizards and Climate Change

shortHornedLizardTwo papers in the journal Global Ecology and Biogeography* outline two threats that the increased local temperature aspect of climate change makes on lizards.

The first paper is about lizards in South America, but North American reptiles might experience something similar. Bearing live young allowed lizards to occupy colder climates, the paper says, but those species are now limited to those climates. As temperatures rise, those species will be forced either closer to the pole(s) or to higher elevations — severely limiting available habitat.

Read the paper The evolution of viviparity opens opportunities for lizard radiation but drives it into a climatic cul-de-sac, here. (Fee or subscription needed for full article.)
Read the University of Exeter press release on EurekAlert, here.

Another paper in the journal took data on the body temperature of lizards and compared it to the temperature of their environments. It found that it was the temperature of the environment, not the species’ body temperature, that correlated most closely (either positively or negatively) with important life-history factors such as clutch size and longevity.

Because environmental temperature seems to play a bigger role than body temperature (and therefore the lizards’ ability to compensate for environmental temperature), the paper says, climate change can have a “profound influence on lizard ecology and evolution.”

Read the paper Are lizards feeling the heat? here. (Fee or subscription required for full article.)

*In this case it is a coincidence that I ran two items from this journal on consecutive days. I received alerts on these papers from two different sources. Go figure. I’ll try to make next week lizard- and biogeography free.

Photo: The viviparous North American species the short-horned lizard, courtesy of the National Park Service.

Minnesota Launches New Moose Study

Minn moose collaringA Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) study will fit 100 moose with GPS collars and implant a second device that can record temperature and heartbeat in 27 of the collared moose, a Minnesota DNR press release reports.

The goal of the study is to shed light on the mysterious decline of moose in the northern part of the state. From the press release:

“The decline in the northeast Minnesota moose population is exhibiting the same pattern of decline that we observed in the northwest,” said Lou Cornicelli, DNR wildlife research manager. “We’re losing about 20 percent of adult moose annually and know from previous studies that predation and hunting are not the primary causes of adult moose mortality. The decline is particularly troubling because more often than not, we can’t determine the primary cause of death.”

The study will collar 75 cows and 25 bull moose. When a collar stops moving for more than six hours (that twice the length of the average moose nap, notes an article in the Duluth News Tribune) the collar will send a text to DNR researchers so that the moose can be necropsied within 24 hours. The collared moose will be tracked for six years.

Read the detailed Minnesota DNR press release here.
Read the Duluth News Tribune article, which has some additional details and punchy quotes, here.
Watch Ericka Butler, DNR wildlife veterinarian, discuss the project on the Northlands NewsCenter website, here.
See more info on Minnesota’s moose research here, including a link to a five-page list of additional moose research projects.

Photo: A moose being collared, but not necessarily for this project. Courtesy of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources