A survey on herpetofauna and climate change is being conducted by Drs. Wolfgang Wüster and Stuart Graham (Bangor University), John Wilkinson (ARC), Ana Togridou, James Hicks and Catharine Wuster (independent researchers).

We know that Earth’s climate is changing. The major, relevant, parameters of climate change (e.g., air and sea surface temperature, solar radiation, UV, humidity, cloud cover, precipitation, extreme weather event frequency, and sea level rise) have implications for biodiversity. It will almost certainly be beyond the ability of some species to adapt to or evolve rapidly enough to keep up with the rate of change in environmental conditions.

Within the next century, species with sufficient mobility are likely to experience elevational and latitudinal shifts as a result of climate change. Predicted lower levels of change may not be insurmountable, but upper bounds may present enormous distances for species to shift. Amphibians and reptile species, with low mobility but specific habitat requirements, are likely to be especially affected. Being an island, the UK is likely to suffer from a lack of space to allow required latitudinal or altitudinal range shifts, resulting in the potential extinction of native species due to climate change. In addition, dispersal is likely to impeded in many places by habitat fragmentation, making reptiles and amphibians especially susceptible to localized climate effects even if potential refugia are available. The same is likely to be true for amphibian and reptile species found throughout Europe. The UK may, however, provide refugia for European species to escape impacts of climate change by providing space for additional latitudinal or altitudinal shift.

Numerous non-native amphibian and reptile species have already been introduced to the UK from Europe through intentional or unintentional release. Impacts of introduced species on native UK species are subject to ongoing research, such as that undertaken by Bangor University on the Aesculapian snake (Zamenis longissimus). Introduced non-native amphibian and reptile species are a topic of increasing interest, both negatively due to the risk of invasiveness, but also with discussion of the possibility of facilitating latitudinal movement of hitherto non-native species to the UK as a measure to mitigate the impact of climate change.

The aim of this research is to investigate how ecology professionals, students and those working in academia in a related field, people with an interest in ecology, climate professionals or people working with amphibian and reptile species in Zoos, statutory and non-statutory bodies and conservation organisations perceive the impacts of climate change in relation to UK amphibian and reptile species and non-native amphibian and reptiles.

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