Me (mentally): Flushing the cloaca of 200 lizards with saline solution, why?
Me (out loud): Oh you know, the usual, science…
Recent climate change is a threat to biodiversity, and while many studies focus on climate-driven extinction risk of charismatic vertebrates such as birds or mammals, none to our knowledge has studied the consequences of climate change on their gut microbial communities. We experimentally studied how the expected future climate may affect the diversity of gut microbiota in a small vertebrate ectotherm. We found that warmer temperatures led to a large loss in bacterial diversity, and this might have further consequences on hosts’ survival to climate change.
Yet it is surprising that almost no studies have focused on the fate of gut microbiota in the currently changing world. Recent anthropogenic climate change has had and is having drastic impacts on natural systems, with 15 to 37% of species predicted to be extinct by 2050. Extinction risk evaluations have so far focused on higher-level organisms, with little consideration for the microbial communities they harbour. Given their importance for host species, a 15 to 37% loss of bacterial species may also have strong consequences on host species persistence to global warming. This is thus why we decided to study the consequences of a +2°C warmer climate on a small vertebrate, the common lizard (Zootoca vivipara).
This blog was originally published as a Nature Ecology and Evolution community "Behind the Paper" blogpost
See the corresponding article:
Bestion, Elvire, Staffan Jacob, Lucie Zinger, Lucie Di Gesu, Murielle Richard, Joël White, and Julien Cote. 2017. ‘Climate Warming Reduces Gut Microbiota Diversity in a Vertebrate Ectotherm’. Nature Ecology & Evolution 1 (2017): 0161. doi:10.1038/s41559-017-0161.