Climate change is altering Earth’s ecosystems in multiple ways, with often dramatic consequences. Many plants and animals are already affected. But surprisingly, we still don’t have a good understanding of what the specific threats are and what the real consequences will look like. Lizards are a group of animals that, colloquially, are said to like the sun (they are called “heliotherms”). Because they are cold-blooded, they depend on heat and solar radiation to reach the temperatures they like. This being the case, the obvious hypothesis would be that they will benefit from global warming. But … will they? A team of 45 researchers from 17 countries has come closer to answering this question in a study published today in Nature Communications

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. The researchers focused on the physiology of Libya Email Lists the lacértidae family (Lacertidae), a group that is widespread in Europe, Asia and Africa. Among the lacértids there are species that live in the scorching heat of deserts, but many others are restricted to cold habitats in mountains over 2000 m in Europe. One of them, the bog lizard, even reaches the Arctic Circle, further north than any other reptile. The study determined experimentally, in the context of their evolutionary tree, which temperatures lacertids prefer and how tolerant they are to water loss in arid conditions. Lizards of other families in tropical environments were known to often operate at temperatures very close to ambient temperatures, and this has not turned out to be different in tropical

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Lacertidae. If climate change leads to a rise in temperature in your environment, they may not be able to persist. “We found in these lizards a strong fit between physiology and environmental temperature and this probably makes them very sensitive to global warming”, comments Joan García-Porta, researcher at the Center for Research on Ecological and Forest Applications (CREAF) and the University Washington in St. Louis (Missouri, United States) and first author of this study. But what about lacértids in temperate environments? Drawing on recently compiled physiology data from more than 50 species, the researchers found that much of their biology is similarly determined by climate. “It was surprising to discover how well these species adapt to

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