The Vulnerability of Australian Skinks

This study introduces a framework for assessing species’ vulnerability to climate change, using Australian skinks as a case study to integrate projections of environmental niche models with indices of vulnerability.

Eastern Shingleback (Tiliqua rugosa) by John Sullivan via iNaturalist. Photo licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0

Eastern Shingleback (Tiliqua rugosa) by John Sullivan via iNaturalist. Photo licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0

This study introduces a framework for assessing species’ vulnerability to climate change, using Australian skinks as a case study to integrate projections of environmental niche models with indices of vulnerability. Skinks represent the largest group of reptiles in Australia, numbering almost 400 species. The researchers found that by 2050, more than 70 per cent of the skinks are projected to experience significant contractions in habitat, and 21 species stand to lose all suitable habitat. However, when assessing overall vulnerability, the researchers discovered that many species expected to lose habitat possess traits that make them very resilient to environmental changes. Other species less affected by habitat loss lack the same traits and may actually be more threatened. Those few species projected to lose nearly all habitat and with limited resilience to changes emerge as the primary focus for conservation efforts.

Citations

Cabrelli, A. L., & Hughes, L. (2015). Assessing the vulnerability of Australian skinks to climate change. Climatic Change. doi:10.1007/s10584-015-1358-6

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