Global warming kills gut bacteria in lizards

May 8, 2017, University of Exeter
Goldteju Tupinambis teguixin. Credit: Wikipedia/CC BY-SA 3.0

Climate change could threaten reptiles by reducing the number of bacteria living in their guts, new research suggests.

Scientists from the University of Exeter and the University of Toulouse found that warming of 2-3°C caused a 34% loss of microorganism diversity in the guts of common lizards (also known as viviparous lizards).

In the experiments, lizards were put in temperature-controlled enclosures and samples of their were tested to identify which bacteria were present.

The diversity of bacteria was lower for lizards living in warmed conditions, and the researchers found this had an impact on their survival chances.

By raising the temperature by 2-3°C in their experiment, the researchers reflected warming predicted by current models.

"Our research shows that a relatively small rise in temperature can have a major impact on the gut bacteria in common ," said Dr Elvire Bestion, of the Environment and Sustainability Institute on the University of Exeter's Penryn Campus in Cornwall.

"More testing is now needed, and it is highly possible that we will see similar effects in other ectotherms (cold-blooded animals such as reptiles and amphibians which depend on external sources of body heat).

"Given the importance of bacteria to digestion, it is crucial that more research is now carried out to investigate this overlooked effect of climate change."

Climate change is now considered as the greatest threat to biodiversity and ecological networks, but Dr Bestion said its impacts on the bacteria associated with plants and animals remain largely unknown.

"We are only now starting to understand the importance of gut microbiota in the physiology of all species, including humans," she said.

"These are linked to everything from digestion to immunity and obesity.

"The gut is the latest health craze in humans - with everything from probiotic yoghurts to faecal transplants being marketed - but almost no studies have been done on how the changing will affect these microbes."

The paper, published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, is entitled: "Climate warming reduces gut microbiota diversity in a vertebrate ectotherm."

Explore further: Climate change threatens survival of common lizards

More information: Climate warming reduces gut microbiota diversity in a vertebrate ectotherm, Nature Ecology and Evolution (2017).

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2.3 / 5 (6) May 08, 2017
One has to imagine that the lizards will be just fine ...

"The earliest known fossil remains of a lizard belong to the iguanian species Tikiguania estesi, found in the Tiki Formation of India, which dates to the Carnian stage of the Triassic period, about 220 million years ago.[7] However, doubt has been raised over the age of Tikiguania because it is almost indistinguishable from modern agamid lizards." -- wikipedia
3 / 5 (8) May 08, 2017
Nice. You've found yet another way of restating the "climate has always changed and therefore it's nothing to worry about" myth. And as always, it's not the change, it's the rate of change that's the concern.
1.8 / 5 (5) May 09, 2017

"Jonathan Jones: My whole involvement has always been driven by concerns about the corruption of science. Like many people I was dragged into this by the Hockey Stick. The Hockey Stick is an extraordinary claim which requires extraordinary evidence, so I started reading round the subject. And it soon became clear that the first extraordinary thing about the evidence for the Hockey Stick was how extraordinarily weak it was, and the second extraordinary thing was how desperate its defenders were to hide this fact. The Hockey Stick is obviously wrong. Climategate 2011 shows that even many of its most outspoken public defenders know it is obviously wrong ..."

1.8 / 5 (5) May 09, 2017

"... And yet it goes on being published and defended year after year. Do I expect you to publicly denounce the Hockey Stick as obvious drivel? Well yes, that's what you should do. It is the job of scientists of integrity to expose pathological science. It is a litmus test of whether climate scientists are prepared to stand up against the bullying defenders of pathology in their midst."
1.8 / 5 (5) May 09, 2017
One of the most important reasons to listen to other side's argument is to check that you don't become part of the many legacy problem ideas which obstruct innovation within the sciences. It can happen by accident, you know.
3.7 / 5 (3) May 09, 2017
Jonathan Jones quote pure drivel. If you can't figure out a hockey stick there is little use for your complaints on science. Please go here an read until your full

It's know as the brain wash cure.

3 / 5 (4) May 09, 2017
Lol. The concept that changes on the Earth aren't due to planets whizzing by at jaw-droppingly close distances or cosmic thunderbolts is a huge threat to Hannes's ego, so he doubles down on stupid.

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