According to various scientists and environmentalists, world animal populations are decreasing at an alarming rate because of the climate change. Physiologically, many animals depend on their optimal ecological conditions in terms of growth and survival. Climate change caused by global warming has disrupted the normal ecological conditions and hence affected animal growth and survival. According to recent environmental researches, the most affected groups of animals are the reptiles and amphibians. This is because these two groups of animals depend on external temperature conditions for most of their metabolic processes to take place. Therefore, even the slightest alterations in their environmental temperature can lead to great damages of their populations.
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Many people do not consider reptiles as animals. However, biologically and physiologically, reptiles are animals and are, in fact, classified under the kingdom animalia (Green par. 1). Reptiles are commonly referred to as cold-blooded animals, but physiologically, they are not. As Green explains, biologically, reptiles are both poikilotherms and ectotherms (par. 2). Poikilothermic animals can be described as animals whose body temperature varies with the temperature changes in the surrounding environment. On the other hand, ectodermics are animals with the ability to absorb heat from the surrounding environment to manage their inner body temperatures. Green further argues that some large reptiles such as crocodiles and sea turtles have the ability to maintain their constant body temperature without being affected by the temperature changes in their surroundings. Such animals are physiologically referred to as homeotherms (Green par. 2). It is important to note that, generally, reptiles have little physiological control over their body temperatures. Therefore, most of their metabolic operations depend on the external temperatures of the surrounding environment (Green par. 3).
Why/how the Global Warming lowers Reptile’s Population
Human beings through their destructive activities have mainly brought about climate change. The emission of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere through various human activities such as charcoal burning has resulted in the accumulation of these gasses in the ozone layer leading to a condition referred to as global warming. Global warming is characterized by factors such as increased temperatures and changes in rain patterns among others, which constitute climate change. According to Lind, reptiles are highly sensitive to any change in air and water temperatures (par. 4). This can be explained by the fact that these animals are ectothermic in nature. Biologically, reptiles have their specific optimal temperature at which their metabolic processes function properly. Therefore, climate change results in fluctuations of climate features such as temperature, air, and precipitation which cause variations in the optimal temperature zone for reptiles. With the optimal temperature zone affected, most metabolic processes of reptiles are interfered, and this makes these animals susceptible to diseases and infections which leads to death. If temperatures become extreme and intolerable, only the healthy and strong reptiles migrate to areas with favorable climate conditions. The young, the very old, and sickly reptiles are left behind and eventually succumb to the extreme unfavorable climatic conditions.
As Lind explains, reptiles have specific timing for their various ecological events such as reproduction, migration, and dispersal among others (par. 6). However, it is important to note that all these ecological events are highly dependent on ecological conditions like air as well as water temperature together with precipitation patterns. Therefore, all these events may shift with fluctuations in the climatic conditions. If such shifts occur inconsistently, the growth and survival of reptiles are greatly affected. Recent researches on the negative impacts of global warming on reptiles indicate that global warming plays a major role in the development of the emerging pathogens that cause various infections and diseases to reptiles and other animals in general (Lind par. 7). It is argued that climatic changes increase the growth and prevalence of pathogenic diseases that affect reptiles. Because various metabolic processes in reptiles are hampered by inconsistent climatic changes, their immune systems are also affected. This leaves them highly vulnerable to the pathogenic diseases.
According to Lovett, lizards in the group of reptiles are nearing extinction mainly because of global warming (par. 1). In his global study, he found out that almost a fifth of global lizard’s species turns out to be extinct mainly because of the increasing temperatures because of global warming. As Lovett argues, lizard population is not decreasing because of ecological destruction but mainly because of increasing temperatures during the spring season (par. 15). According to Lovett, spring is the period of the year in which female lizards need plenty of food to have enough resources to make the young ones. Therefore, if temperatures become so high, the lizards are restricted in terms of activities making them go without food for long periods. This adversely affects population growth of lizards. This scenario is not only persistent with lizards, but with all reptile species because they are similar physiologically.
Protection/ Conservation Measures for the Reptile population
According to Biliuti, global warming has led to the extinction of various reptile species in GreekIsland mainly because of climate change. He argues that this trend will continue and spread to all reptile habitats all over the world as global temperatures continue to rise (par. 5). Therefore, one effective measure that can be taken is to preserve the habitat corridors through which reptiles migrate to the areas with favorable climatic conditions. According to Biliuti, if these corridors are preserved and protected from human activities, they can allow reptile species to migrate in response to the changing temperatures hence giving them extra chances of survival (par. 6). The increasing rates at which reptiles are becoming extinct because of global warming suggest that human beings need to allocate and preserve more land specifically for threatened species such as reptiles. Biliuti also suggests that protected areas for endangered species such as reptiles should be connected with protected corridors through which the animals can migrate in response to climatic changes (par. 11).
According to Lind, it is also important that human beings are sensitized on the negative impacts of their activities on the environment and the long-term effects on animal populations such as reptiles. People should be taught how to preserve natural habitats, avoid altering these habitats, and reduce pollutants such as emission of greenhouse gases that cause global warming (Lind par. 8). Environmentalists also argue that governments should enact and implement effective policies and laws that aim at addressing the impact of climate change on animal species in order to protect them from extinction.
From the discussion, there is enough evidence that reptiles have become endangered species mainly because of climate change. Reptiles being ectothermic in nature mainly depend on the external temperatures of the surrounding environment to control their internal body temperature and hence all their metabolic processes. Therefore, any changes in climate affect growth and survival of reptiles, which consequently affects their population. It is, therefore, important that human beings must be sensitized on various ways through which they can protect these endangered species, for example, preserving the natural habitats and reducing pollution that result into global warming. Consequently, the environment will be safe for all animals including reptiles and, therefore, preserve the nature itself together with its beauty, which comes from these habitats.
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