Climate change threatens Northern American turtle habitat

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Posted October 14, 2013
Although a turtle’s home may be on its back, some North American turtles face an uncertain future as a warming climate threatens to reduce their suitable habitat.

 
Climate change threatens Northern American turtle habitat
This is a Terrapene carolina, or eastern box turtle, near Lake Poinsett, Arkansas in 2013. Credit: Beth A. Reinke
 

A new study that reconstructs the effects of past climatic changes on 59 species of North American turtles finds that the centers of the turtles’ ranges shifted an average of 45 miles for each degree of warming or cooling. While some species were able to find widespread suitable climate, other species, many of which today are endangered, were left with only minimal habitat.

Species in temperate forests and grasslands, deserts, and lake systems, primarily in the Central and Eastern US, were more affected by climate change than species occurring along the Pacific Coast, in the mountain highlands of the Western US and Mexico, and in the tropics, according to the study published today in the journal PLOS ONE.

The study integrates data from more than 300 published studies on turtle physiology, genetics, and fossils with new models of species’ response to climate-change cycles over the last 320 millennia to draw its conclusions. During this timeframe, Earth passed through three glacial-interglacial cycles and significant variation in temperature.

Read more at: Phys.org



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