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New survey - Herpetofauna in a changing world: the impacts of climate change on UK herpetofauna - Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust

A survey on herpetofauna and climate change is being conducted by Drs. Wolfgang Wüster and Stuart Graham (Bangor University), John Wilkinson (ARC), Ana Togridou, James Hicks and Catharine Wuster (independent researchers).

We know that Earth’s climate is changing. The major, relevant, parameters of climate change (e.g., air and sea surface temperature, solar radiation, UV, humidity, cloud cover, precipitation, extreme weather event frequency, and sea level rise) have implications for biodiversity. It will almost certainly be beyond the ability of some species to adapt to or evolve rapidly enough to keep up with the rate of change in environmental conditions.

Within the next century, species with sufficient mobility are likely to experience elevational and latitudinal shifts as a result of climate change. Predicted lower levels of change may not be insurmountable, but upper bounds may present enormous distances for species to shift. Amphibians and reptile species, with low mobility but specific habitat requirements, are likely to be especially affected. Being an island, the UK is likely to suffer from a lack of space to allow required latitudinal or altitudinal range shifts, resulting in the potential extinction of native species due to climate change. In addition, dispersal is likely to impeded in many places by habitat fragmentation, making reptiles and amphibians especially susceptible to localized climate effects even if potential refugia are available. The same is likely to be true for amphibian and reptile species found throughout Europe. The UK may, however, provide refugia for European species to escape impacts of climate change by providing space for additional latitudinal or altitudinal shift.

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