Researchers say that one in five reptile species is at risk of extinction. A new study has revealed that more than half of all reptile species are in danger of extinction.
Researchers discovered that 21.1% of all species known were at risk in the largest extinction-risk assessment on reptiles.
Neil Cox, study co-author, said that it was overwhelming to see the number of threatened species. Nature published the researchers’ findings on April 27, 2012.
Before this research, there was no official attempt to estimate the number of reptiles at risk. Conservationists instead relied on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Endangered Species to determine the risk status of amphibians, birds, and mammals.
The Red List criteria was used by the researchers to determine that 1,829 of 10,196 reptile species were endangered, vulnerable or critically endangered. This is 21.1% of all the species.
The IUCN Red List also indicated that 57.9% turtles and 50% crocodiles were under threat. Overall, the Red List shows that 40.7% of amphibians and 25.4% of mammals are endangered, and 13.6% of birds is considered to be at risk.
Global study was completed over 15 years by 961 researchers from 24 countries on six continents.
Researchers analyzed preexisting surveys and data sets of turtles and crocodiles in Africa, Asia, Australia and the Caribbean. According to the New Zealand Department of Conservation, Tuatara is an endemic species that lives in New Zealand. They are the last survivors of an order of reptiles that can “trace back to the Triassic period.”
According to the authors, global threats to reptiles include agriculture, logging and urban development, as well as invasive species. According to the authors, 30% of reptiles that live in forests are at risk of extinction while 14% of those living in arid habitats are.
Researchers also discovered that threatened reptiles are concentrated in Southeast Asia and West Africa, Northern Madagascar, the Northern Andes, and the Caribbean. This will allow conservationists to focus their efforts on areas with the highest need.
The primary threats to different types of reptiles were also reduced by the study authors. Predators introduced by humans can also threaten lizards living on islands. According to the IUCN, poaching and hunting are the biggest threats to turtles or crocodiles.
The authors stated that it is difficult to know how climate change affects reptiles due to the lack of long-term studies. The authors wrote that climate change was a “looming danger” as it reduced the temperature window that cold-blooded animals can forage and can alter offspring’s sex ratios in species that are affected by temperature.