Accelerating local extinction associated with very recent climate change

Kim L. Holzmann, Ramona L. Walls, John J. Wiens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Climate change has already caused local extinction in many plants and animals, based on surveys spanning many decades. As climate change accelerates, the pace of these extinctions may also accelerate, potentially leading to large-scale, species-level extinctions. We tested this hypothesis in a montane lizard. We resurveyed 18 mountain ranges in 2021–2022 after only ~7 years. We found rates of local extinction among the fastest ever recorded, which have tripled in the past ~7 years relative to the preceding ~42 years. Further, climate change generated local extinction in ~7 years similar to that seen in other organisms over ~70 years. Yet, contrary to expectations, populations at two of the hottest sites survived. We found that genomic data helped predict which populations survived and which went extinct. Overall, we show the increasing risk to biodiversity posed by accelerating climate change and the opportunity to study its effects over surprisingly brief timescales.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1877-1886
Number of pages10
JournalEcology letters
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2023


  • climate change
  • extinction
  • genomics
  • niche
  • range shift
  • reptile

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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