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Home Middle Column Oh noes! Global warming kills gut bacteria in lizards

Oh noes! Global warming kills gut bacteria in lizards

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From the UNIVERSITY OF EXETER and the department of “likely headed for Retraction Watch” comes this study that doesn’t seem to pass the smell test, because putting lizards in hot boxes isn’t the same as lizards in the wild, and the diurnal variation of temperature far exceeds 2-3°C. More likely, the lizards are reacting to stress from the environment, and have less bacteria because they’ve been isolated from their normal exposure to microorganisms.

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 gut bacteria 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 climate change models.

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

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