Researchers suggest focus on smaller species to understand climate change

-Chandrani Sinha

In a major survey on the amphibian populations worldwide, it has been found that an alarming pattern of its population is nearing extinctions and the main reason is rising temperatures. But very less research is done on smaller species when it comes about their existence and habitat.
For instance Geckos probably will be the last species we will be  worried about when it comes to climate change.
And so will be with Moth , spiders, reptiles, birds and insects.
The disappearance of amphibian’s populations is likely to have repercussions up and down the food chain. Especially Lizards are important prey for many birds, snakes, and other animals, and they are important predators of insects.
Recently a group of researchers (JAYADITYA PURKAYASTHA, HMAR TLAWMTE LALREMSANGA, SANATH CHANDRA BOHRA,LAL BIAKZUALA, H.T. DECEMSON,LAL MUANSANGA, MATHIPI VABEIRYUREILAI,SURAJ CHAUHAN and  YASHPAL SINGH RATHEE) in  Northeast India have documented dramatic declines of amphibian and they are also restricted to small patches. Based on the research paper the morphology and ND2 gene sequences, four new species of Cyrtodactylus, two each from the Indian states of Meghalaya and Mizoram are newly identified species. The new species are a part of the Cyrtodactylus khasiensis group. The species from Meghalaya represent the lowland clade whereas the species from Mizoram represent the highland clade within the south of Brahmaputra clade of Indo-Burmese Cyrtodactylus. The two distinct populations from Meghalaya are sister to one another, differing from each by an uncorrected p-distance 0.065 and collectively are sister to Cyrtodactylus septentrionalis. The species from Mizoram differ from each other by an uncorrected p-distance of 0.085–0.121 and collectively are sister to Cyrtodactylus montanus. 

Karst-dwelling bent-toed Gecko

Speaking to DR Jayaditya Purkayastha “ We hardly talk about smaller species, mammals like elephants tigers have been already in the conservation list, but still very little research is done on amphibians, reptiles, spider and smaller group of animals which are primary indicators of climate change and temperature change”
Amphibian life histories are exceedingly sensitive to temperature and precipitation, and there is good evidence that recent climate change has already resulted in a shift to breeding earlier in the year for some species.
There is need of more research in terms if smaller species as they are best indicators of climate change in an environment. It is likely, however, that future climate change will cause further declines of some amphibian species. Reduced soil moisture could reduce prey species and eliminate habitat.
Talking to a young wildlife photographer from Guwahati Rupankar bhattacharjee he said “since 1 year I am observing bird’s behavior and clicking their photographs, I have noticed that the purple sunbird is hard to find in urban landscape, they are spring birds and Guwahati hardly have this season nowadays as winters are short and summers are long”
Erratic rain fall and increased in summer evaporation could have dramatic effects on the duration or occurrence of seasonal wetlands, which are primary habitat for many species of amphibians. Climate change may be a relatively minor cause of current amphibian declines, but it may be the biggest future challenge to the persistence of many species like birds insects etc.

Oriental Garden Lizard

(This story have been done as a part of TERI (The Energy and Resources Institute) Media fellowship for Climate Change reporting in Himalayan Region – 2021)
Chandrani Sinha is an independent journalist who works on climate change, gender, health and sustainable development from Northeast India.

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