A new study by a joint team of researchers from Queen’s University Belfast and Tel Aviv University in Israel suggests that the rate at which cold-blooded animals, including amphibians and reptiles, age at a rate associated with high temperatures, and that global warming could have a huge impact on life expectancy in cold-blooded animals.
The theory of “survival” has long been thought of as an explanation for the aging of organisms. According to this theory, the faster the metabolism, the shorter the lifespan. This explains why some vertebrates, such as frogs, can only survive for a few months, while others, such as whales and turtles, can survive for centuries.
The team analyzed data from more than 4,100 terrestrial vertebrates on Earth and found that “survival rates” did not affect the rate of aging, negates the previously accepted link between metabolism and longevity.
Dr Daniel Pincheira-Donoso, of Queen’s University Belfast, explained: “Our findings are crucial to our understanding of the factors that contribute to species extinction, especially in today’s world, where we are facing a global decline in biodiversity. Cold-blooded animals are particularly serious. “
“Now that we know that the life expectancy of cold-blooded vertebrates is related to ambient temperature, we can predict that their lifespanwill will be further shortened as global warming continues to rise. “
In general, amphibians are the most threatened group, according to the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. There are an estimated 10,000 species of lizards, snakes, turtles, crocodiles and other reptiles in the world, nearly one-fifth of which are endangered.
The researchers say the link between the longevity of cold-blooded animals and environmental temperatures could mean they are particularly vulnerable to the global warming that the Planet is currently experiencing. We need to further deepen our understanding of the link between biodiversity and climate change in order to inform future policies and prevent further destruction of ecosystems.