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News > Science and Tech

Scientists Warn a Fifth of World's Reptiles Face Extinction

  • A South American marked gecko.

    A South American marked gecko. | Photo: Twitter/ @axios

Published 28 April 2022

The Global Reptile Assessment also found that amphibians were the most vulnerable sub group with over 40 percent of all assessed species being at risk of extinction.

A team of international scientists released a global assessment which delivered a grim conclusion that more than one fifth of all the world's reptiles face potential extinction.


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Published in the Nature journal on Thursday, the Global Reptile Assessment (GRA) showed that 21 percent of over 10,000 reptile species assessed faced potential extinction in the near future. The report also found that amphibians were the most vulnerable sub group with over 40 percent of all assessed species being at risk of extinction.

The GRA was coordinated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and saw collaboration between thousands of scientists from across every major region. Professor David Chapple in Evolutionary and Conservation Ecology at Monash University, who headed operations in Australia and New Zealand, said that the massive scale of the project meant that the report was able to show how each region faced unique and varied ecological challenges.

"People generally have regional expertise... so it's a very effective way to generate these conservation assessments," he said, adding that Australia is home to around 10 percent of the world's known reptile species, the vast majority of which are only found on the continent.

The GRA revealed that the plight of Australia's reptiles has deteriorated over the past 25 years, with a doubling of the number of threatened species. While globally the future impacts of climate change were hard to accurately model, it was beginning to see in real time its impacts.

"Previously, we thought a species that was relatively widespread in eastern Australia would be safe from bushfires because the entire range wouldn't be impacted. But that changed a couple of years ago (during Australia's 2019-20 summer bushfires)."

These catastrophic bushfires had the potential to destroy the entire habitat range of species in Australia, and had already driven many species to the brink. Scientists were very aware of the threat of extinction and the next step would be engaging and informing the public.

"We're actually facing the potential loss of a wide range of different species, particularly ones that have large functions within the ecosystems that they're in."


David Chapple
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