JUL 11, 2018 04:26 PM PDT

Salamanders May Fare Better Against Climate Change Than Initially Believed

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard
3 2 94

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
MAY 20, 2018
Cell & Molecular Biology
MAY 20, 2018
RNA-interfering Vaccine can Protect Plants From Pests
We need good solutions to pest management in agriculture to feed a growing population as the environment changes.
JUN 12, 2018
Health & Medicine
JUN 12, 2018
What is the Nordic Diet and Can It Work Long-Term?
There are a lot of popular diets out there that promise weight loss, better health and even protection against heart disease, dementia and other conditions
JUN 20, 2018
Earth & The Environment
JUN 20, 2018
Meet these 99-million-year-old tiny frogs
Recently discovered amber from Myanmar is giving us new information on what life was like 99 million years ago. The amber, a tree resin known for preservin
JUN 24, 2018
JUN 24, 2018
Why Did T. Rex Have Such Small Arms?
While the Tyrannosaurus Rex may have had large and intimidating jaws, it may have been over-compensating for something. After all, the fearsome dinosaur sp
JUN 26, 2018
Plants & Animals
JUN 26, 2018
Illegal Hunting Threatens Reintroduced Lynx Populations
You would have been hard-pressed to find a wild lynx in certain parts of Europe during the 1980’s. Populations became incredibly scarce at the time,
JUL 19, 2018
Health & Medicine
JUL 19, 2018
Tracking Tick-Borne Disease
Every summer the concern about tick-borne diseases runs high. Lyme disease, which is carried by ticks, is quickly becoming a major public health concern. T
Loading Comments...