Deforestation poses deleterious effects to tree-climbing species under climate change

Omer B. Zlotnick, Keith N. Musselman, Ofir Levy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Habitat loss poses a major threat to global biodiversity. Many studies have explored the potential damages of deforestation to animal populations but few have considered trees as thermoregulatory microhabitats or addressed how tree loss might impact the fate of species under climate change. Using a biophysical approach, we explore how tree loss might affect semi-arboreal diurnal ectotherms (lizards) under current and projected climates. We find that tree loss can reduce lizard population growth by curtailing activity time and length of the activity season. Although climate change can generally promote population growth for lizards, deforestation can reverse these positive effects for 66% of simulated populations and further accelerate population declines for another 18%. Our research underscores the mechanistic link between tree availability and population survival and growth, thus advocating for forest conservation and the integration of biophysical modelling and microhabitat diversity into conservation strategies, particularly in the face of climate change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-295
Number of pages7
JournalNature Climate Change
Volume14
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2024

Funding

FundersFunder number
National Science Foundation2120804
National Geographic SocietyNGS-84241T-21
National Natural Science Foundation of China1276/19, 300/22
Israel Science Foundation

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