JUL 11, 2018 4:26 PM PDT

Salamanders May Fare Better Against Climate Change Than Initially Believed

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Many of the world’s animals display some type of response to the hazardous effects imposed by climate change. In most cases, the response isn’t good, but some animals tend to fare better than others.

Curious researchers from Clemson University wanted to learn more about how climate change might impact the high salamander diversity residing in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Upon collecting data of their own, the researchers recognized that the reptiles could be less susceptible to the effects of climate change than initially thought.

Will salamanders show more resistance to climate change than initially thought?

Image Credit: Pixabay

Their findings, which have been published in the journal Science Advances this week, may surprise you.

While previous studies have long estimated that anywhere between 70-85% of the Southern Appalachian Mountains would become inhabitable for salamanders by the year 2080, the new research indicates that these figures are grossly over-estimated.

Instead, salamanders demonstrate incredible feats of plasticity, meaning that they can rapidly adapt to harmful conditions like heat stress. This plasticity could be vital to the salamanders’ survival amid climate change, and the researchers propose that it could reduce their risk of extinction from climate change-induced circumstances by as much as 72%.

"When scientists make predictions about extinction, we often have to work with what we have. This means that we use Big Data and advanced statistical software to understand what might happen in the future," explained Eric Riddell, the lead author of the study.

"But our research has shown that salamanders have some tricks up their sleeves that are only apparent upon making direct observations in nature and in the laboratory."

Related: Rare massive salamander discovered in a Chinese cave

As it would seem, previous studies neglected to take the creature’s plasticity into consideration when estimating its risk of extinction amid climate change despite how important of a factor it is. This study, however, took salamanders’ plasticity into consideration, and models now yield very different results.

"This is one of the first papers that has exclusively looked at plasticity in this sense. We're telling you that our new predictions are nowhere near as dire as earlier predictions. In this part of the world, this is a particularly big deal," added Michael Sears, a co-author of the study.

Related: Female salamanders re-grow their tails up to 36% faster than males

"We can now say more accurately what might occur if climatic conditions continue to deteriorate."

The study certainly seems to turn things around for the humble salamander, but it doesn’t mean that the creatures won’t experience any hardship as climate change rears its ugly head.

With any luck, follow-up studies could provide additional insight into how salamanders might react to a forever-changing environment so that conservation efforts can kick in as soon as possible.

Source: Clemson University

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
OCT 02, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
After Mass Extinction, All Modern Snakes Evolved From Only a Few Survivors
OCT 02, 2021
After Mass Extinction, All Modern Snakes Evolved From Only a Few Survivors
Reporting in Nature Communications, scientists have suggested that every living snake on earth evolved from just a handf ...
NOV 04, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
Sperm Will Swim in Different Directions to Locate the Egg
NOV 04, 2021
Sperm Will Swim in Different Directions to Locate the Egg
Sperm are basically cells with a tail. It can seem surprising that they are able to navigate and swim with purpose. New ...
NOV 15, 2021
Cancer
Dogs Get Cancer Too
NOV 15, 2021
Dogs Get Cancer Too
“Cancer” isn’t a word anyone wants to hear from their doctor. However, many dog owners may not conside ...
NOV 10, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
The Symmetry of Sea Stars Reveals More About Development
NOV 10, 2021
The Symmetry of Sea Stars Reveals More About Development
With time lapse photography, scientists have now learned more about the symmetry of sea stars. This work could tell us m ...
NOV 13, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Human Waste Contributions to Global Pollution Exceed Expectations
NOV 13, 2021
Human Waste Contributions to Global Pollution Exceed Expectations
River ecosystems receive many inputs from human activities upstream. Rivers bring these inputs out to the ocean, where t ...
NOV 30, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
A Gene Underlying Cat Fur Colors
NOV 30, 2021
A Gene Underlying Cat Fur Colors
Our pets don't seem to have much in common with the wild animals they're related to, but the genes that dictate the colo ...
Loading Comments...