Tel Aviv: An international study surveying more than 14,000 species of amphibians and reptiles found that more animals will become extinct outside of nature reserves than within them because of climate change. The research findings provide evidence, on a global scale, of the crucial role that protected areas play in conserving amphibian and reptile biodiversity under climate change scenarios. The study’s findings were recently published in the peer-reviewed Nature Communications.
Researchers from 19 countries sought to evaluate the effectiveness of existing protected areas in protecting the amphibians and reptiles and to identify gaps in conservation. Their findings will serve as a roadmap for the development of future protected areas.
Protected areas refers to locations that are recognized as having natural, ecological or cultural value, such as nature reserves, national parks and designated wilderness areas among others. Human activities, such as fishing, hunting, mining, and logging are restricted or banned.
According to the researchers, 300 amphibian and 500 reptile species will become extinct due to climate change in the coming decades. Furthermore, amphibians and reptiles living in reserves will be better protected against climate change than species found outside of these areas.
Tel Aviv University researcher, Professor Shai Meiri, who participated explained the findings and their significance said,
We collected distribution data for more than 14,000 species of amphibians and reptiles — about 70 per cent of the known species — to perform a global assessment of the conservation effectiveness of Protected Areas in an era of climate change, using species distribution models. Our analyses revealed that approximately 91 per cent of the amphibian and reptile species we examined are protected, to some degree, in Protected Areas, and that this proportion will remain unchanged under future climate change. Furthermore, species protected in Protected Areas will lose smaller portions of their distribution ranges inside the nature reserve than outside of them. Therefore, the proportion of species within reserves is expected to increase
We predict that more than 300 of the amphibian species and 500 of the reptile species we studied will become extinct due to climate change in the coming decades, and probably also hundreds of species for which we did not have sufficient data to model
Professor Meiri explained that the researchers compiled a global database with more than 3.5 million observation records spanning 5,403 amphibian species and 8,993 reptile species from online databases, fieldwork data, museum collections, and published references. The availability of suitable habitat was predicted based on current climate data from 1960-1990 and future scenarios between 2060-2080.
The researchers also produced species distribution models based on the assumption that the reserves and parks would remain protected. Professor Meiri said,
Our evidence shows that the current global network of Protected Areas already plays an important role in preserving the global biodiversity of amphibians and reptiles, and will continue to do so under the expected future climate. However, many species do not live in the existing Protected Areas. These include, for example, many amphibians and reptiles in Mexico, Jamaica, the Andes, West Africa, South Africa, the southern and northern coast of Turkey, Yemen and other places. Moreover, in our study we could create a model for only about two-thirds of reptile and amphibian species
Professor Meiri also stressed that while protected areas would help safeguard animals from climate change, that protection is not absolute, further said,
Despite the relative optimism emerging from the new research, the models still predict extremely high rates of loss of species and habitats due to climate change. Protected areas do indeed protect the animals living within them, but nothing is foolproof
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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