How Are Reptiles Affected By Climate Change?

How are reptiles affected by climate change?

One may think that reptiles—often seen basking on sun-drenched rocks to obtain active body temperatures—may benefit from climate change. Yet, as a group, they are also expected to suffer under climate change.

One reason is because many reptiles will also have to adapt their ranges to shifting climates.

Even more important, climate change will increase reptiles’ vulnerability to demographic

Many reptiles—and some fish—have their sex determined by temperature during embryonic development, with warmer temperatures often leading to more females.

In general, females regulate
their offspring’s sex ratios by fine-scale breeding site selection. Under climate change, however, it might be harder for the females to find breeding sites with suitable microclimates.

This situation is of concern at South Africa’s iSimangaliso Wetland Park, where Nile crocodiles (Crocodylus niloticus, LC) are already struggling to find suitable breeding sites due to microclimate changes caused by invasive plant encroachment. Those species unable to adopt new mechanisms to control
for offspring sex ratio bias may eventually go extinct, even under relatively small temperature shifts.

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