Predicting future discoveries of lizards

Based on previous discoveries, can you make predictions about the traits of lizards yet to be described?

Data resources used via GBIF : 4,400 species occurrences
Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis)

Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis) described by F. S. Voigt in 1832. Photo by Nick Lindner via iNaturalist licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0

The rate at which researchers are describing new species of lizards is increasing rapidly. In 2000, taxonomists described 50 new species, and this number increased to 140 in 2014. In this study, a researcher from Tel Aviv University compiled discovery dates and species traits for all known lizard species (order Squamata excluding snakes), and deduced range sizes using occurrence data from GBIF and others. By applying statistical analysis, the researcher related traits of the discovered species to the year of discovery. The results showed that most recent discoveries (21st century) are more frequent in the tropics. The species discovered have smaller body and range sizes, and are more likely to nocturnal, but less likely to be burrowing. Finally, and most unfortunately, the study indicates that recent discoveries are more likely to be threatened with extinction than those described earlier, hinting at the discouraging fact that some lizard species may be lost before they are discovered.

Citations

Meiri S (2016) Small, rare and trendy: traits and biogeography of lizards described in the 21st century. Journal of Zoology. Wiley-Blackwell 299(4): 251–261. Available at doi:10.1111/jzo.12356.

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