Erosion of lizard diversity by climate change and altered thermal niches

Barry Sinervo, Fausto Méndez-de-la-Cruz, Donald B. Miles, Benoit Heulin, Elizabeth Bastiaans, Maricela Villagrán Santa Cruz, Rafael Lara-Resendiz, Norberto Martínez-Méndez, Martha Lucía Calderón-Espinosa, Rubi Nelsi Meza-Lázaro, Héctor Gadsden, Luciano Javier Avila, Mariana Morando, Ignacio J. De La Riva, Pedro Victoriano Sepúlveda, Carlos Frederico Duarte Rocha, Nora Ibargüengoytía, César Aguilar Puntriano, Manuel Massot, Virginie LepetzTuula A. Oksanen, David G. Chappie, Aaron M. Bauer, William R. Branch, Jean Clobert, Jack W. Sites

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1418 Scopus citations


It is predicted that climate change will cause species extinctions and distributional shifts in coming decades, but data to validate these predictions are relatively scarce. Here, we compare recent and historical surveys for 48 Mexican lizard species at 200 sites. Since 1975, 12% of local populations have gone extinct. We verified physiological models of extinction risk with observed local extinctions and extended projections worldwide. Since 1975, we estimate that 4% of local populations have gone extinct worldwide, but by 2080 local extinctions are projected to reach 39% worldwide, and species extinctions may reach 20%. Global extinction projections were validated with local extinctions observed from 1975 to 2009 for regional biotas on four other continents, suggesting that lizards have already crossed a threshold for extinctions caused by climate change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)894-899
Number of pages6
Issue number5980
StatePublished - May 14 2010


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