KNOXVILLE—Although a turtle’s home may be on its back, some North American turtles face an uncertain future as a warming climate threatens to reduce their suitable habitat.
A new study conducted at the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville reconstructs the effects of past climate changes on 59 species of North American turtles and finds that the centers of the turtles’ ranges shifted an average of 45 miles for each degree of warming or cooling. While some species were able to find widespread suitable climate, other species, many of which today are endangered, were left with only minimal habitat.
Species in temperate forests and grasslands, deserts and lake systems, primarily in the central and eastern United States, were more affected by climate change than species along the Pacific Coast, in the mountain highlands of the western United States and Mexico, and in the tropics, according to the study, published in the journal PLOS ONE. [Read more…]