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BGU Maps World’s Reptiles for the First Time

BGU Maps World’s Reptiles for the First Time

October 9, 2017

Desert & Water Research, Natural Sciences

Cosmos — Dr. Uri Roll, a postdoctoral fellow at the Marco and Louise Mitrani Department of Ecology at the Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, and an international team of 39 scientists have created the first definitive map showing the distribution and density of every reptile species in the world.

An Auckland Green Gecko
(Photo: Matthijs Kuijpers)

The new map details more than 10,000 species of snakes, lizards, tortoises, and turtles. It is published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.

It complements previous surveys that have compiled data on approximately 5,000 mammals, 10,000 birds and 600 frogs and salamanders. The reptile map is a significant achievement, coming more than a decade after the others were completed because, until recently, available data was too scarce to allow confident interpretations.

The map reveals that reptile diversity is threatened in the Arabian Peninsula, inland southern Africa, central Australia, and the steppes of Asia.

Identifying the areas in which reptile biodiversity is fragile is a major step in constructing international conservation programs. However, many of the locations, such as deserts and drylands, present considerable difficulties when it comes to putting any such plan into action.

“Deserts and drylands are home to lots of other modern activities, such as major irrigation projects, huge new solar power developments, and sometimes widespread land degradation, war and conflict. This makes them very challenging environments for conservationists to work,” says Roll who was the lead author.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature already has a team working on the information contained on the map, classifying each species according to its rarity and vulnerability. After this process is completed, the reptile atlas will be made available for free public access.

Read more on the Cosmos website>>