French researchers have established a link between the premature aging of viviparous lizards and global warming.
In their study, published on Monday, they link heat stress to DNA damage in reptiles, reducing their lifespans, reports
Research began in the 2010s in the Massif Central and the Pyrenees before refocusing in 2015 on ten populations of viviparous lizards exclusively in the Massif Central.
One of them disappeared in 2018. For each population, the researchers sought to identify the causes of their decline by analyzing their size, abundance, microclimate and altitude of their habitat.
DNA degraded from generation to generation
The researchers also carried out tests on the telomeres, cells located at the ends of the chromosomes of the lizards and which protect the DNA codes.
This is how they found that climate change was damaging these cells, accelerating the lizards' pace of life and causing premature aging.
Normally, viviparous lizards live for four years and reproduce between one and two years.
But in case of high heat, they tend to reproduce earlier for the survival of the species.
Problem: “Each generation of lizards will transmit telomeres that are increasingly degraded and the fact that they reproduce quickly accelerates their extinction”, explains Andréaz Dupoué, co-author of the study.
For the time being, it is still difficult to predict the exact date of the extinction of the viviparous lizards in the Massif Central.
But the researchers believe that it will be “virtually certain in ten years”, perhaps “much earlier”.
This species, which adapts very well to colder climates, is still present in Ireland and Japan.
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