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Climate change and collapsing thermal niches of Mexican endemic reptiles

January 1, 2017

Recent climate change should result in expansion of species to northern or high elevation range margins, and contraction at southern and low elevation margins due to extinction. Climate models predict dramatic extinctions and distributional shifts in the next century, but there are few ground-truths of these dire forecasts leading to uncertainty in predicting extinctions due to climate change. Previously, we reported on recent extinctions of Mexican Sceloporus lizards by comparing recent surveys to historical distributional records for 48 species at 200 sites. We also ground-truthed extinctions on five continents across 8 lizard families by comparing observed and predicted extinctions from an eco-physiological species distribution model and obtained a high R 2 of 0.72 (1, 2). Here, we derive more detailed predictions for 15 terrestrial reptile families and 142 species for the Mexican and California Biogeographic provinces using all known museum occurrence records, and detailed measures on eco-physiology. We adopt the eco-physiological model of extinction developed earlier but use a species-specific model. We predict massive and rapid extinctions of 22% of the reptile populations in Mexico within the next 50 years. We also predict that 3 of 15 reptile families, all three endemic to the Mexican and Californian biogeographic provinces, will go extinct by 2070, the hallmark of the beginnings of a mass extinction event. However, extinctions may be attenuated by forest cover and by presence of montane environments in contemporary ranges. We describe impacts of altitude on three species (Gopherus morafkai, G. evgoodei, and Gambelia sila) to illustrate regional management strategies (AZ-Mexico, Sinoloa, CA) for reserves in tandem with global strategies of CO2 limits that might limit climate impacts. By carefully selecting new montane preserves adjacent to desert and tropical forest habitats, and by implementing global controls on atmospheric CO2 emissions, extinctions may be reduced to less than 11% of species and only a single reptile family.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2017
Title Climate change and collapsing thermal niches of Mexican endemic reptiles
Authors Barry Sinervo, Rafael A. Lara Reséndiz, Donald B. Miles, Jeffrey E. Lovich, Joshua R. Ennen, Johannes Müller, Robert D. Cooper, Philip C. Rosen, Joseph A. E. Stewart, Juan Carlos Santos, Jack W. Sites, Paul Gibbons, Eric Goode, L. Scott Hillard, Luke Welton, Mickey Agha, Gabriel Caetano, Mercy Vaughn, Cristina Meléndez Torres, Héctor Gadsden, Gamaliel Casteñada Gaytán, Patricia Galina-Tessaro, Fernando I. Valle Jiménez, Jorge H. Valdez-Villavicencio, Norberto Martínez Méndez, Guillermo Woolrich Piña, Victor Luja Molina, Aníbal Díaz de la Vega Pérez, Diego M. Arenas Moreno, Saúl Domínguez Guerrero, Natalia Fierro, Scott Butterfield, Michael Westpha, Raymond B. Huey, William Mautz, Víctor Sánchez-Cordero, Fausto R. Méndez de la Cruz
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype Other Report
Index ID 70201659
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Southwest Biological Science Center

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