Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Slithering towards extinction: Reptiles in trouble

Date:
February 17, 2013
Source:
Zoological Society of London
Summary:
Nineteen percent of the world's reptiles are estimated to be threatened with extinction, according to new research. The study is the first of its kind summarising the global conservation status of reptiles. More than 200 world renowned experts assessed the extinction risk of 1,500 randomly selected reptiles from across the globe.

Snake (Atheris ceratophora) eating prey.
Credit: © Michele_Menegon

Nineteen percent of the world's reptiles are estimated to be threatened with extinction, states a paper published February 14 by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) in conjunction with experts from the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC).

The study, printed in the journal of Biological Conservation, is the first of its kind summarising the global conservation status of reptiles. More than 200 world renowned experts assessed the extinction risk of 1,500 randomly selected reptiles from across the globe.

Out of the estimated 19% of reptiles threatened with extinction, 12% classified as Critically Endangered, 41% Endangered and 47% Vulnerable.

Three Critically Endangered species were also highlighted as possibly extinct. One of these, a jungle runner lizard Ameiva vittata, has only ever been recorded in one part of Bolivia. Levels of threat remain particularly high in tropical regions, mainly as a result of habitat conversion for agriculture and logging. With the lizard's habitat virtually destroyed, two recent searches for the species have been unsuccessful.

Dr. Monika Böhm, lead author on the paper: "Reptiles are often associated with extreme habitats and tough environmental conditions, so it is easy to assume that they will be fine in our changing world.

"However, many species are very highly specialised in terms of habitat use and the climatic conditions they require for day to day functioning. This makes them particularly sensitive to environmental changes," Dr. Böhm added.

Extinction risk is not evenly spread throughout this highly diverse group: freshwater turtles are at particularly high risk, mirroring greater levels of threat in freshwater biodiversity around the world. Overall, this study estimated 30% of freshwater reptiles to be close to extinction, which rises to 50% when considering freshwater turtles alone, as they are also affected by national and international trade.

Although threat remains lower in terrestrial reptiles, the often restricted ranges, specific biological and environmental requirements, and low mobility make them particularly susceptible to human pressures. In Haiti, six of the nine species of Anolis lizard included in this study have an elevated risk of extinction, due to extensive deforestation affecting the country.

Collectively referred to as 'reptiles', snakes, lizards, amphisbaenians (also known as worm lizards), crocodiles, and tuataras have had a long and complex evolutionary history, having first appeared on the planet around 300 million years ago. They play a number of vital roles in the proper functioning of the world's ecosystems, as predator as well as prey.

Head of ZSL's Indicators and Assessment Unit, Dr Ben Collen says: "Gaps in knowledge and shortcomings in effective conservation actions need to be addressed to ensure that reptiles continue to thrive around the world. These findings provide a shortcut to allow important conservation decisions to be made as soon as possible and firmly place reptiles on the conservation map,"

"This is a very important step towards assessing the conservation status of reptiles globally," says Philip Bowles, Coordinator of the Snake and Lizard Red List Authority of the IUCN Species Survival Commission. "The findings sound alarm bells about the state of these species and the growing threats that they face globally. Tackling the identified threats, which include habitat loss and harvesting, are key conservation priorities in order to reverse the declines in these reptiles."

The current study provides an indicator to assess conservation success, tracking trends in extinction risk over time and humanity's performance with regard to global biodiversity targets.

ZSL and IUCN will continue to work with collaborating organisations to ensure reptiles are considered in conservation planning alongside more charismatic mammal species.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Zoological Society of London. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Monika Böhm et al. The conservation status of the world’s reptiles. Biological Conservation, 2013; 157: 372 DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2012.07.015

Cite This Page:

Zoological Society of London. "Slithering towards extinction: Reptiles in trouble." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 February 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130217085303.htm>.
Zoological Society of London. (2013, February 17). Slithering towards extinction: Reptiles in trouble. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130217085303.htm
Zoological Society of London. "Slithering towards extinction: Reptiles in trouble." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130217085303.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) — Where's a body buried? Buster's nose can often tell you. He's a cadaver dog, specially trained to find human remains and increasingly being used by law enforcement and accepted in courts. These dogs are helping solve even decades-old mysteries. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) — Two white lion cubs, an extremely rare subspecies of the African lion, were recently born at Belgrade Zoo. They are being bottle fed by zoo keepers after they were rejected by their mother after birth. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) — He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Buzz60 (Oct. 20, 2014) — An entomologist stumbled upon a South American Goliath Birdeater. With a name like that, you know it's a terrifying creepy crawler. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins