Patterns and biases in climate change research on amphibians and reptiles: A systematic review

Maiken Winter, Wolfgang Fiedler, Wesley M. Hochachka, Arnulf Koehncke, Shai Meiri, Ignacio De La Riva

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Climate change probably has severe impacts on animal populations, but demonstrating a causal link can be difficult because of potential influences by additional factors. Assessing global impacts of climate change effects may also be hampered by narrow taxonomic and geographical research foci. We review studies on the effects of climate change on populations of amphibians and reptiles to assess climate change effects and potential biases associated with the body of work that has been conducted within the last decade. We use data from 104 studies regarding the effect of climate on 313 species, from 464 species–study combinations. Climate change effects were reported in 65% of studies. Climate change was identified as causing population declines or range restrictions in half of the cases. The probability of identifying an effect of climate change varied among regions, taxa and research methods. Climatic effects were equally prevalent in studies exclusively investigating climate factors (more than 50% of studies) and in studies including additional factors, thus bolstering confidence in the results of studies exclusively examining effects of climate change. Our analyses reveal biases with respect to geography, taxonomy and research question, making global conclusions impossible. Additional research should focus on under-represented regions, taxa and questions. Conservation and climate policy should consider the documented harm climate change causes reptiles and amphibians.

Original languageEnglish
Article number160158
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Volume3
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2016

Keywords

  • Amphibia
  • Bias
  • Climate change
  • Linnean shortfall
  • Reptilia
  • Wallacean shortfall

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