Record Details

Brusch IV, George A;Taylor, Emily N;Whitfield, Steven M
Turn up the heat: thermal tolerances of lizards at La Selva, Costa Rica
Journal Article
Springer Berlin Heidelberg
Iguana iguana
Global temperature increases over the next century are predicted to contribute to the extinction of a number of taxa, including up to 40% of all lizard species. Lizards adapted to living in lowland tropical areas are especially vulnerable because of their dependence on specific microhabitats, low vagility, and a reduced capacity to physiologically adjust to environmental change. To assess the potential effects of climate change on lizards in the lowland tropics, we measured the critical thermal maximum (CTmax) of ten species from La Selva, Costa Rica. We also examined how well body size, microhabitat type, and species predicted the CTmax. We used current temperature data along with projected temperature increases for 2080 to predict which species may be at the greatest risk at La Selva. Of the ten species sampled, four are at serious risk of lowland extirpation and three others might also be at risk under the highest predicted temperature-increase models. Forest floor lizards at La Selva have already experienced significant population declines over the past 40 years, and we found that each of the forest floor species we studied is at serious risk of local extirpation. We also found that microhabitat type is the strongest predictor of CTmax, demonstrating the profound impact habitat specialization has on the thermal limits of tropical lizards.