While some animals are already being threatened by changes in the climate, a new study has found that a species of lizards are adapting to increasing temperatures and loss of water.
The study, conducted by 45 researchers including an associate at New York University’s Abu Dhabi branch, found that lacertid lizards have physiological traits closely linked to the environmental conditions in which they live.
The study found that desert lacertids, lizards found in the United Arab Emirates, are less affected by increasing temperatures. They have a high thermal preference and low water loss rates as compared to their counterparts living in tropical forests.
“It was amazing to discover how neatly these species are adapted to their environment. Their physiology, size of distribution ranges, species richness, and even mutation rates - everything correlates strongly to the temperatures they experience in the wild,” said Miguel Vences, a co-author of the study and professor of evolutionary biology at the Braunschweig University of Technology in Germany.
In contrast, tropical forest lacertid lizards operate at body temperatures very close to those of their environment. If the temperatures increase, their existence is put at risk.
The study, which was conducted by 45 researchers from 17 countries, used state-of-the-art DNA sequencing methods and analysis of fossils to reconstruct the evolution of 262 species of lacertid lizards.