Study: Cold-Blooded Animals May Struggle To Adapt To Climate Change

By Andrew Bernier
Published: Thursday, May 21, 2015 - 5:55pm
Updated: Friday, May 22, 2015 - 8:39am
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The already slow-moving, cold-blooded desert tortoise may be impacted by higher temperatures.

Climate change has been increasing temperatures across the Southwest for years now, and research suggests it may be slowing down cold-blooded desert dwellers.

A new study from UC Berkeley and San Francisco State University suggests cold-blooded creatures have relatively low ability to acclimate to rising temperatures.

The researchers reviewed 112 published studies examining 232 cold-blooded species such as lizards, insects and amphibians. They used upper- and lower-level thermal tolerance, which are the temperatures at which animals become slower in speed and flexibility, or plasticity, than their predators.

The data suggests aquatic animals have greater plasticity than land-based animals, and land animals in hotter climates may have a harder time with plasticity than in cooler areas.

This means desert reptiles may find it more difficult to outmaneuver predators, putting certain populations at risk.