Oh noes! Global warming kills gut bacteria in lizards

From the UNIVERSITY OF EXETER and the department of “likely headed for Retraction Watch” comes this study that doesn’t seem to pass the smell test, because putting lizards in hot boxes isn’t the same as lizards in the wild, and the diurnal variation of temperature far exceeds 2-3°C. More likely, the lizards are reacting to stress from the environment, and have less bacteria because they’ve been isolated from their normal exposure to microorganisms.

Climate change could threaten reptiles by reducing the number of bacteria living in their guts, new research suggests.

Scientists from the University of Exeter and the University of Toulouse found that warming of 2-3°C caused a 34% loss of microorganism diversity in the guts of common lizards (also known as viviparous lizards).

In the experiments, lizards were put in temperature-controlled enclosures and samples of their gut bacteria were tested to identify which bacteria were present.

The diversity of bacteria was lower for lizards living in warmed conditions, and the researchers found this had an impact on their survival chances.

By raising the temperature by 2-3°C in their experiment, the researchers reflected warming predicted by current climate change models.

“Our research shows that a relatively small rise in temperature can have a major impact on the gut bacteria in common lizards,” said Dr Elvire Bestion, of the Environment and Sustainability Institute on the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall.

“More testing is now needed, and it is highly possible that we will see similar effects in other ectotherms (cold-blooded animals such as reptiles and amphibians which depend on external sources of body heat).

“Given the importance of bacteria to digestion, it is crucial that more research is now carried out to investigate this overlooked effect of climate change.”

Climate change is now considered as the greatest threat to biodiversity and ecological networks, but Dr Bestion said its impacts on the bacteria associated with plants and animals remain largely unknown.

“We are only now starting to understand the importance of gut microbiota in the physiology of all species, including humans,” she said.

“These bacteria are linked to everything from digestion to immunity and obesity.

“The gut is the latest health craze in humans – with everything from probiotic yoghurts to faecal transplants being marketed – but almost no studies have been done on how the changing climate will affect these microbes.”

###

The paper, published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, is entitled: “Climate warming reduces gut microbiota diversity in a vertebrate ectotherm.”

Added: (referenced in my comments below), the press release: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-05/uoe-gwk050517.php

Added: best comment of the thread –

I’m not a biologist by trade, but I do keep extremely rare lizards as pets (legally – a difficult but not impossible thing if you have enough money). I’m also involved with conservation (because I care), and so there is plenty of interaction with academic biologists and practicing zoologists as well as private individuals who share my hobby. I haven’t read the details of this experiment, so this is off-the-cuff commentary on the scientific environment, not the specifics of the experiment per se.

1) Academics trust other academics way too much – even the sketchiest of conclusions sometimes wind up being taken as gospel, to the point where I sometimes wonder what freaking planet they live on because it’s not this one.

2) Academics gravitate towards disaster scenarios. Any change horrifies them. Optimism about change in the environment is treated as religious delusion (bask in the irony of that for a moment, please). I’m an atheist, and some of the conversations I have with academic scientists are just as strange and uncomfortable for me – in the exact same way – as dealing with deeply religious people (if that’s your thing, then that’s your thing – I don’t hate or dislike you, but I do think it’s weird. You’re perfectly free to think I’m weird too. It’s cool. We can still get along). This doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of bad-to-awful changes, but there are far more predictions of strongly negative outcomes than there are actual negative outcomes of any magnitude.

3) Nature adapts extremely well. This is probably why the Earth isn’t a barren rock right now, because plenty of things (of which human activity is some tiny sliver of 1%) have tried to kill us all. Our captive animals do “scientifically impossible” stuff on a regular basis. Of course, it’s not really “scientifically impossible,” it’s just that the conclusions they are violating were arrived at without much actual science taking place.

4) Lizards adapt better than most. Freakishly well. There are plenty of people that do a downright awful job of keeping lizards as pets and it doesn’t kill the animals. The common belief that lizards are boring pets is largely based on the fact that most lizards kept as pets are half dead – and they can stay that way for years (all the necessary info is available for free on the Internet, so no excuses for these idiots). With proper care they are quite vibrant and interactive animals, with a surprising amount of personality. In any case, if I had a dime for every time a so-called scientist told me that a 2º-5º C change in environment temperature (or similarly small changes in humidity, UV light exposure, etc) would be the end of the lizard world and I already knew for a fact that people were keeping very healthy animals (as far as we can measure, and we do) with those changes… I could afford to buy a lot more lizards.

=====

Added: comment from Rud Istvan suggests the paper is fatally flawed

Paper is paywalled, but read the SI, which gives some big clues as to what is actually going on. There were three sets of 3 ‘Metratron’ 100m2 semi outdoor enclosures, all supposedly identical in plants and food invertibrates. Controlled for moisture and temp, netted to prevent predation. Three each for Present climate ‘PC’ avg june-sept temp 26.6C, peak 29.5C, intermediate ‘IC’ J-S avg 28.2 peak 31.5, and warm ‘WC’ avg 28.4 peak 32.1. All stocked June 2012 with near identical numbers (~30) of adult and juvenile matched sex ratio wild caught lizards. Left for 1 year, but only the summer months June -Sept had IC or WC. the fall, winter, and spring were PC in all nine enclosures.
All the surviving lizards were caught May 2013 and the cloaca sampled for bacteria. But they ended up having to exclude the IC group from the final analysis, because in one of the IC enclosures only 3 lizards survived the year. The SI specifically says that the reduced WC gut flora had TWO causes: 2-3C, and higher mortality. They therfore don’t know The temperature impact alone because of the mortality difference.That detail never made it to the abstract or the PR.

Looked up other papers on lizard microbiomes. (Weird, two in 2017 already.) Turns out captivity by itself changes microbiomes. Turns out that in the wild, there is a significant degree of individual variation depending on accidental juvenile diet, which is mainly how lizards pick up the bacteria from the insects they eat. Now the experimental method for this paper simply threw all the PC or WC samples together for genetic analysis to identify all the bacteria in all the lizard cohort. The reported 34% reduction in WC microbiome gut flora species compared to PC could simply be from fewer surviving individuals, so automatically less bacterial diversity.

Without controlling for mortality and individual lizard bacterial diversity, this pseudoresult is just more junk climate science.

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141 thoughts on “Oh noes! Global warming kills gut bacteria in lizards

    • It has been my experience that lizards are one of the most common vertebrates living in the hot, western US deserts. Perhaps they let their subscription to Nature Ecology and Evolution lapse and aren’t aware that they are supposed to be stressed.

      This is a fine example of the sorry state of modern science and the academic requirement of ‘publish or perish.’

      • Well. it’s not too different from asphyxiating monkeys with pot smoke and claiming it fatally damaged their brains.

      • Gee, I always had a hunch that Mastodon farts ended the younger dryas glaciation.
        /megasarc

    • Dinosaurs spent so much time discussing their gut bacteria they forgot to survive.

    • A little probiotics will solve this issue lickety split. Global warming solved for lizards… I wonder if lizards are aware that they’re destroying their health by hanging out on those hot rocks.

  1. Perhaps “Leaping Lizards!” might be more apropos.
    Sure why not leap to a completely unfounded conclusion. There are so many other possible reasons, but it has to be climate change.

    • 1. Put lizard in box.
      2. Light box-lizard on fire.

      Conclusion: Putting lizards in boxes causes them to burn.

      • I am sure you people know the joke. but I paste it in here just in case.

        The Scientist and the Frog

        There once was a scientist who studied frogs. One day, the scientist put the frog on the ground and told it to jump. The frog jumped four feet.

        So the scientist wrote in his notebook, “Frog with four feet, jumps four feet.”

        So the scientist cut off one of one of the frogs legs. The scientist told the frog to jump. Frog jumped three feet. So the scientist wrote in his note book, “Frog with three feet, jumps three feet.”

        So the scientist cut of another leg. He told the frog to jump. The frog jumped two feet. So the scientist wrote in his notebook “Frog with two feet, jumps two feet.”

        The scientist cut off one more leg. He told the frog to jump. Frog jumped one foot. So the scientist wrote in his notebook, “Frog with one foot, jumps one foot.”

        So the scientist cut off his last leg.

        “He said, “Frog jump. Frog jump. FROG JUMP!”

        So the scientist wrote in his notebook, “Frog with no feet, goes deaf.”

  2. It would seem that when we take organisms out of their habitat and then test factors in their habitat we are asking for results that probably have nothing to do with reality.

  3. Hey, why not choose some of the better “Climate Change Models” to determine how warm to heat the oven? At least then you’ll have cooked lizards to eat, albeit English cooking….

    • My thoughts exactly.

      Science has a problem with replication. The majority of science papers can’t be replicated. About half can’t even be replicated by the original authors. link

      If you have a discussion with a scientist, you will probably come away thinking the work is bullet proof. Experts can always come up with facts that bolster whichever idea they are putting forth. That doesn’t matter. Peer review doesn’t matter. If the work can’t be replicated, it is garbage.

      I’ll believe this study when it is widely replicated.

      • “commieBob May 8, 2017 at 9:51 am
        ….
        I’ll believe this study when it is widely replicated.”

        Great. More dead lizards at third rate snowflake schools around the world.

  4. Perhaps we ought to try putting these Exeter University academics in hot boxes and seeing if if they show any signs of intelligence when warmed up – obviously the cold is damaging to their IQs.

  5. This reminds me of the story of the guy who would pull the legs off grasshoppers and then clap his hands to startle them so they would jump. After pulling all six legs off a grasshopper and noticing it wouldn’t jump when he startled it in the usual way, he proudly announced that he had discovered grasshoppers hear using their legs.

  6. “because putting lizards in hot boxes isn’t the same as lizards in the wild, and the diurnal variation of temperature far exceeds 2-3°C. More likely, the lizards are reacting to stress from the environment, and have less bacteria because they’ve been isolated from their normal exposure to microorganisms”

    The lizards were kept in the Metatron.
    Metatron, an ensemble of semi-natural enclosures… This structure offers 48 interconnected
    enclosures of 100m², each delimited by tarpaulins buried into the ground and enclosed by a
    net, preventing escape and predation. Enclosures act as mini-ecosystems typical of lizard
    habitats, with diverse natural vegetation, hides, rocks and invertebrate self-maintaining
    communities2. Temperature, illuminance and hygrometry within enclosures are monitored
    continuously and can be manipulated through motor-driven shutters and sprinklers. Lizards
    were maintained in the Metatron for two years prior to the experiment in ‘present climate’
    conditions (see next section), allowing acclimatization.

    There was a control (present climate), an intermediate (2C) and a warm (3C) group. They survived on natural diet and invertebrate diversity and abundance were high in the enclosures, with no differences between climatic treatments at the beginning and at the end of the experiment

    The experiment seems well designed and controls for all of your speculations adequately.

    https://www.nature.com/article-assets/npg/natecolevol/2017/s41559-017-0161/extref/s41559-017-0161-s1.pdf

    .

    • Nope sorry, not buying it. Of course, you’ll accept most anything that supports your belief system. Time and again we see studies where the researchers remove organisms from their natural habitat and put them in an artificial environment…just to “prove” something about global warming. It doesn’t matter how tightly controlled or how much they tried to replicate their real-world environment.

      Show me a real-world environment with “motor-driven shutters and sprinklers” that these lizards live in. In fact the researchers admit in the SI “the Metatron, an ensemble of semi-natural enclosures” semi-natural? Sorry, not the real-world.

      Point is, nature is incredibly complex, and in an artificial environment, no matter how carefully crafted, they can’t replicate the natural world exactly. There’s always something missing….of course when you set out to “prove” something for a headline, it doesn’t matter to them.

      And, given how much scientific fraud there is today, I wouldn’t put it past these researchers to help (either consciously or unconsciously) the data along for the expected results. For example”

      Lizards were maintained the whole year in the enclosures, with climatic treatments effective during the summer (from mid-June to mid-September) and no differences in temperature between treatments during the winter and spring2.

      Um, last I heard AGW isn’t just a summer phenomenon. Why choose only summer? That’s not a real test of climate. May as well just title the study: “Warmer than normal summers reduces gut microbiota diversity in a vertebrate ectotherm” One summer is not climate. It’s weather.

      Your defense fails, “seaice1”, miserably.

      • And

        “One swallow does not make a summer. …” :)

        Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics

      • Everything that I have read indicates that AGW would have more impact in the winter, not less.

      • And I’ll add, these researchers allowed an extrapolation from a poorly designed test on one mountains species in France to represent ALL reptiles in the press release”

        Title: Global warming kills gut bacteria in lizards
        Subtitle: Climate change could threaten reptiles by reducing the number of bacteria living in their guts, new research suggests.

        That’s a dishonest escalation from one species, in one place, for one semi-simulated summer to climate (30 year period) and ALL lizards/reptiles, and smacks of a political motivation.

        Junk science.

      • Your claim is that this paper is likely heading for retraction because they failed to control for several things. They did control pretty well for those things, which is a really difficult thing to do. So difficult, in fact, that without reading the material one could easily assume that they probably had not done so.

      • There’s a world difference between trying hard and doing well.
        Of course since they came up with the correct answer, seaice demands that they get the benefit of the doubt and them some.

      • Seaice, there is a massive study flaw revealed in the SI. I just posted on it downthread. Read the SI again before going downthread. Hint: what happened to analysis of the IC cohort?

      • So Anthony, are you say that nobody can ever do a valid experiment about
        what might the effect of a changing environment unless there is a second earth
        identical to this one except in regards the control parameter?

    • I’m guessing that seaice is trying to prove that lizards can’t tell this environment from purely natural ones.
      Of course lizards are demonstrably smarter than seaice.

      • I am not trying to prove that, but do you think the lizards in the control group were better able to tell they were in an artificial environment than those in the test group?

    • seaice1,

      I’m reminded of the old statement that according to aeronautical engineers, bumblebees shouldn’t be able to fly. The reality of the situation is that lizards are one of the more successful vertebrates to inhabit deserts. Perhaps the particular species that they experimented on have a low tolerance for temperature changes, but considering that the environment thermoregulates their activity, and warmth is better than cold because it provides them with the necessary energy to hunt; in general, a few more degrees would be expected to be beneficial. It is quite possible that there is some other factor, perhaps related to diet, that is affecting gut biota. I would expect that the diversity of gut bacteria would be an adaptation to handle a diversity in diet. If one of the common wild sources of food is missing, then it wouldn’t be a surprise if the bacteria necessary to assist in the digestion of that particular food would decline.

      Unfortunately, it would appear that Chamberlain’s Method of Multiple Working Hypotheses is not part of the required undergraduate reading for biology majors.

      • Clyde,

        Not just deserts. I have four different species in my backyard here in Georgia USA, and that is more swamp than desert (I am actually on above fall-line sand hills, but who is counting).

      • Chamberlin, T. C. 1897. The method of multiple working hypotheses. Journal of Geology. 5:837-848. As primarily a biologist who read the original long after formal education, I suspect that this could be more of a tragedy of specialization, moving away from problem solving and elevating hypotheses, among other things. Anyone seriously studying geology should have big trouble with the Anthropocene concept. Also, there is no guarantee that using MWH will not just simply justify the appearance of objectivity. He wrote a text (1904) with another author on “Geological Processes and Their Results,” which might be worth reading.

        Time to give biologists, well older ones anyway, a little credit.

        “Like the legendary flightless bumblebee, a blue crab that periodically molts should not be possible.” From Mangum, C. P. 1992. Physiological aspects of molting in the blue crab Callinectes sapidus. American Zoologist. 32:459-469.

      • HDH,
        You have confirmed my suspicion that Chamberlain’s work is not required reading for biologists. However, I’m glad to hear that you did have the opportunity to read it eventually. It would seem that if it was not required reading for you, there is even less chance that it is required reading today.

    • Are we to intimate from the description of the experiment that the lizards under study preyed upon the “invertebrate diversity and abundance” as a food source?
      Did the researchers also check the “invertebrate diversity” for bacteria changes in their guts as well? In any of the control biomes?
      I am reminded of the epic failures of every “bio-dome” experiment to date. Almost always failure was due to incomplete modeling of micro/macro biological balances and the enormous diversity required for stabile equilibrium.

    • I’d be more interested to know:

      what, if any, difference there was in the gut temperature at the time of sampling between the control and experiment lizards and how did that compare to the ambient temperature

      what change in gut bacteria was there in the 8 months or so that the temperatures were not elevated, and was there any difference in gut bacteria between control and experiment during this period

      what sampling of bacteria in the immediate environment was carried out during these periods (elevated temperature and normal temperature)

      what, if any, changes in food source were there between the control and experiment environments during the study period (i.e. did the elevated temperature cause any variation in the naturally occurring food sources)

      what, if any. changes in bacteria on or within the food source were there with elevated temperature

      what if any physical changes to the lizards were noted as a result of the change in gut bacteria levels

      what external control sampling – i.e. same species of lizard in its wild natural environment – was carried out to determine the natural variation in gut bacteria levels in wild lizards

      and a whole lot of other questions besides to be able to form any valid view of this and even begin to draw any conclusion from it.

      • In an environment with a slightly elevated temperature, all other things being equal (yea right), the lizards are going to be a little more active and needing more food.
        Was more food provided or did the hot lizards have the same food supply as the control lizards?

      • Mark W.–I was wondering the same thing–did a lack of food cause the increased mortality in the hot box because the lizards managed to eat more than the breeding bug population could keep up with??

    • Seaice, well done for checking on the experimental method. That’s one team champion point for you right there. Indeed the group did seek to use a control.

      One thing caught my eye “In May 2013, we recaptured all surviving lizards (92 out of 241 adults and 73 out of 365 one year old juveniles) ”

      Now that is a mortality rate of over 60% for adults and 80% for juveniles.

      Here is another “we captured all surviving individuals (48 individuals, 21 in present climate and 27 in warm climate) ”

      Now that suggests that the increased temperature results in a 28% higher survival rate.

      You’d have to check mortality rates in the wild, but lizards can live up to 20 years in captivity. My tentative conclusion would therefore be that doing experiments on lizards kills them in substantial numbers and warming helps them survive the experiments. With that going on the gut bacteria contents kind of falls into insignificance.

      That’s the thing about science. When you set out to prove something you have already failed. You need to be sceptical.

      • Definitely. Bad animal husbandry is reminiscent of some studies from the 1970’s testing food additives for cancer, where they drew “conclusions” from studies where a large number of rats died of other causes.

      • The last time I studied the issue (perhaps a decade ago) the gold standard for cancer studies was LD50. Which meant that 50% of the rats were killed by the toxicity of the chemical being tested. The rats that were tested for cancer were the 50% that managed to survive being poisoned to death, but just barely.

    • You would think with all the rich statistical analysis done, these researchers could have at the very least identified which species the lizards were, whether a single or multiple species. Given that lizards in the wild do not have a long lifespan, it is entirely plausible that adults captured at the initialization of the experiment were of an age not conducive for replication of the entire experimental sequence.

      It is also entirely plausible that older lizards—as is the case with nearly every species—have less diverse microbiota, are weaker and less immune to stressors of any type, and are inherently at risk of suffering negatively. This is evidential among the elderly who are hospitalized with C. difficile sp.

      It’s further plausible that diversity of gut microbiota is an evolutionary aspect that allows the lizards to grow and live without the expenditure of energy loss to unnecessary bacterial strains, i.e. bacterial shedding.

      There is little to conclude from this experiment that portends a dire future from a climatic perspective. While I don’t believe there will be a retraction, I think it is highly biased and lacking on key variables which do not represent the broader environmental and climatic aspects.

      • AZ1971. From the abstract. “Here, we studied the consequences of climate warming on the gut bacterial communities of an ectotherm, the common lizard (Zootoca vivipara)”

        They did identify the species.

    • I bet if someone ripped you out of your environment and put you in a strange place, your stomach would be upset, too.

      • especially if the composition of my diet suddenly changed. I’d probably do poorly if they suddenly made me eat vegan, but I don’t know that I would be able to tell if someone turned the thermostat up a few degrees.

    • “Frozenseabrain0 May 8, 2017 at 9:32 am

      “because putting lizards in hot boxes isn’t the same as lizards in the wild, and the diurnal variation of temperature far exceeds 2-3°C. More likely, the lizards are reacting to stress from the environment, and have less bacteria because they’ve been isolated from their normal exposure to microorganisms”

      The lizards were kept in the Metatron.
      Metatron, an ensemble of semi-natural enclosures… This structure offers 48 interconnected
      enclosures of 100m², each delimited by tarpaulins buried into the ground and enclosed by a
      net, preventing escape and predation. Enclosures act as mini-ecosystems typical of lizard
      habitats, with diverse natural vegetation, hides, rocks and invertebrate self-maintaining
      communities2. Temperature, illuminance and hygrometry within enclosures are monitored
      continuously and can be manipulated through motor-driven shutters and sprinklers. Lizards
      were maintained in the Metatron for two years prior to the experiment in ‘present climate’
      conditions (see next section), allowing acclimatization.

      There was a control (present climate), an intermediate (2C) and a warm (3C) group. They survived on natural diet and invertebrate diversity and abundance were high in the enclosures, with no differences between climatic treatments at the beginning and at the end of the experiment

      The experiment seems well designed and controls for all of your speculations adequately.”

      Not one sentence you typed is actually true. Instead your stuffed your personal bias into the research and declared it good; for whatever detestable reason.

      A) the research did not maintain a pure control anywhere. Instead the research relied upon artificial enclosures couple with some absurd version of random occurrences.

      B) the research literally did not care for lizards! Without predators killing lizards, anoles, geckoes, etcetera; lizards are able to survive amazingly well!

      C) What kills captive lizards quickest is lack of sufficient moisture. Insufficient water, desiccated lizard. Insufficient water, desiccated lizard gut flora and fauna.

      D) Some yahoo, knew how to control the temperature during the summer. But this control is apparently not worth posting in detail.

      E) The same college idiots could’ve located lizard habitats with microclimate temperature differences to test for lizard digestive tract flora and fauna. All without introducing a thousand new ways to kill and torture lizards.

      F) These college idiots were not satisfied cruelly debasing lizards. So they wrote a lizard computer climate model. This is where the actual results are drawn from.

      “Statistical analyses
      Effect of climate change on individual bacterial richness in the first experiment
      We investigated climatic impacts on total bacterial richness (i.e. total number of OTUs per individual), identified bacterial richness (i.e. number of taxonomically assigned OTUs) using linear mixed models with lmer procedure in R version 3.1.114,15.

      We fitted a full model including climatic treatment as a continuous variable, plus sex and age classes (1 or ≥2 years old) of individuals as covariates and every possible interaction, and sample sequencing depth and its interaction with climate plus enclosure identity as a random intercept. The interaction between age class and sex and climate was added because they are important modulators of individuals microbiota and because lizards have been found to respond differently to climate depending on age and sex2, therefore it is likely that it would affect bacterial microbiota differently. We also included the enclosure identity as a random intercept to account for potential differences among enclosures. The inclusion in the model of the sample sequencing depth (centred around the mean and scaled by dividing by the standard deviation) and its interaction with climatic treatment was done in order to account for potential differences in bacterial load and/or bacterial diversity sampling through sequencing (i.e. different sequencing depth among samples) between climates, although we found no significant impact of climatic conditions on sample sequencing coverage, as estimated by the Good coverage [estimator: 1-(singletons/total number of sequences), Fig. S1a] and on sample sequencing depth (number of sequences by sample, Fig. S1b).

      We compared this full model including climate, age, sex and their interaction and climate and sequencing depth interactions plus random enclosure to all derived simpler models through AIC. When several models had close AICs (ΔAIC < 2), we used a model averaging method following 16 with the MuMIn R package17. The same model averaging method was used for all subsequent analysis.

      Sounds like they really enjoyed playing with their models. Really really enjoyed playing with models.

      How nice of the fools, they averaged lizards’ statistics. Why!?

      Sadly, that little datum of information explains a lot.
      • The college fools did, because they did not know better;
      • nor did they know how to design research,
      • allow for untouched controls,
      • not allow bad habitat management to affect the research,
      • nor recognize valid findings without hosing observations with irrelevant stuff,
      • or twist numbers through absurd curve fittings.

      These research fund and time wasters should pay back every dime wasted and work community service for every minute wasted for every person reading their rubbish.

      frozenbrain0 has once again, showered us with fake science dreck.

      • ATheoK.

        You assume idiocy on the part if the authors. It is clear that you have little understanding.

        A) the research did not maintain a pure control anywhere. Instead the research relied upon artificial enclosures couple with some absurd version of random occurrences.

        They used environments as close as they could get to identical except for the parameter under test. That is a control. Their control may not be perfect, but it is pretty good. They randomised the populations – ever heard of randomised clinical trials? This is the same principle.

        B) Is this an ethical or scientific objection? It seems you are criticising them for animal cruelty. May or may not be an issue, but this has nothing to do with my points. They usually have an ethics board to approve experiments involving animals before they are carried out. My assumption would be that this was done here, but you could check if you have concerns.

        C) There seems to be no point to this point.

        D. We have only seen the supplementary information. The details will be in the paper and references therein.

        E) Your suggested experiment has no control, and would thus be useless for the purposes of this investigation, although it would have value for other purposes. As an illustration, if we were to find that the population in the warmest environment had the lowest bacterial richness, how could we say if this was due to the temperature, or the diet, or the genetics of the population, or the dryness, or any other variable?

        F) Sigh. They did not write a lizard computer climate model. They used a statistical model. Have you ever fitted a straight line to some data points? You used a linear model. A mixed model is similar but it estimates the effects of one or more explanatory variables on a response variable. Yes, scientists do love playing with models.

        In short, every one of your points is either wrong or irrelevant.

      • seaice1 neatly personifies all that is wrong with climate science.
        In it’s mind, the researchers get credit for trying really hard.
        The fact that they missed by a mile is not important, they tried hard and that’s all that mattered.

      • “frozenseabrain0 May 9, 2017 at 5:20 am

        “ATheoK.”

        You assume idiocy on the part if the authors. It is clear that you have little understanding.”

        I do not ‘assume’ anything. The idiots wrote their own confirmation biases into their research right from the beginning.
        They then followed up with choosing “the easy” path at every research step. Now once did the researchers select the best possible research steps or math.

        For many if not all of their ‘research steps’ the researchers filled in all blanks with their personal assumptions.

        “ATheoK A) the research did not maintain a pure control anywhere. Instead the research relied upon artificial enclosures couple with some absurd version of random occurrences.”

        “They used environments as close as they could get to identical except for the parameter under test. That is a control. Their control may not be perfect, but it is pretty good. They randomised the populations – ever heard of randomised clinical trials? This is the same principle.”

        Randomized? How fanciful of you seafreezebrain0.

        They randomized lizards? That is a stunningly stupid step to take.
        That is neither the purpose nor means to achieving what randomize is meant to achieve. i.e. remove institutional, personal, researcher, educator influences and biases.

        ” B) Is this an ethical or scientific objection? It seems you are criticising them for animal cruelty. May or may not be an issue, but this has nothing to do with my points. They usually have an ethics board to approve experiments involving animals before they are carried out. My assumption would be that this was done here, but you could check if you have concerns.”

        There you go with automatically making assumptions based ion your personal preferences, not on reality or observations.
        Not a surprise really. Your comments are rife with personal blindness and deafness towards ‘research’ you personally like.
        That is a very anti-scientific method. In a manner of position, you are sitting as ‘Pope Urban VIII’ over Galileo.

        Such a nice guy.

        Back to the lizards.
        Lizard living conditions – assumed.
        Lizard health conditions and food sources – assumed
        Lizard examination for gut bacteria; external swabbing.

        Where are the experts who actually know what it takes to run lizard safe living conditions? Not some bloody clueless ethics board far removed from the research!
        Actual experts who are able to identify and correct unhealthy lizard conditions!?

        There have been quite a few of these types of fake research the last few years. Researchers install their personal versions of animal/plant/sea life living enclosures while completely ignoring horrid effects of those living conditions on the alleged research!

        Without “pure controls”, untouched by the researchers, there is zero proof that the researchers did not personally cause conditions they are test for and writing about.

        “C) There seems to be no point to this point.”

        Why mention your ignorance then?

        For people who actually raise and/or treat sick lizards, knowing the causes for unhealthy conditions is paramount.
        No food – lizard can live for weeks.
        Bad food – lizard can live for years.
        Bad heating conditions, this may very well exacerbate desiccation.
        Cold living conditions – lizards lose much of their activity. Lizards are extremely susceptible to physical damage from other critters. Even crickets can kill or seriously damage dormant lizards.

        No such expertise is introduced or interacted with to guide lizard research.
        Either sheer idiocy or willful and malicious attempts to skew research.

        “D. We have only seen the supplementary information. The details will be in the paper and references therein.”

        Since when?
        The supplementary information is where the research methods, research data, relevant graphs, mathematical formula are described and justified.

        Then again you are not used to reviewing real science or scientific research seafreezebrain0. So far, all of your claims for support are from positions of ignorance while your criticisms about comments are from science denial and anti-science stances.

        “E) Your suggested experiment has no control, and would thus be useless for the purposes of this investigation, although it would have value for other purposes. As an illustration, if we were to find that the population in the warmest environment had the lowest bacterial richness, how could we say if this was due to the temperature, or the diet, or the genetics of the population, or the dryness, or any other variable?”

        How does that work seafreezebrain0?

        The researchers are unable to certify that small bit of accuracy you are speculating about now!

        What is worse, there is not a method or control for verifying that swabbing a lizards cloaca does not introduce sufficient foreign fluids to disrupt lizard digestions!

        The lizard living quarter descriptions only vaguely refers to controlling for several degrees C°. Some researcher gets to play temperature control… big whoop.

        Worldwide, the vast majority of wildlife research is performed ‘in situ’.
        Performed correctly, there is no finer research practice.

        “F) Sigh. They did not write a lizard computer climate model. They used a statistical model. Have you ever fitted a straight line to some data points? You used a linear model. A mixed model is similar but it estimates the effects of one or more explanatory variables on a response variable. Yes, scientists do love playing with models.”

        There is that reading comprehension problem of yours seafreezebrain0.

        The “lizard computer climate model” is a direct quote, not paraphrasing!

        “We fitted a full model including climatic treatment as a continuous variable, plus sex and age classes (1 or ≥2 years old) of individuals as covariates and every possible interaction, and sample sequencing depth and its interaction with climate plus enclosure identity as a random intercept. The interaction between age class and sex and climate was added because they are important modulators of individuals microbiota and because lizards have been found to respond differently to climate depending on age and sex2, therefore it is likely that it would affect bacterial microbiota differently. We also included the enclosure identity as a random intercept to account for potential differences among enclosures. The inclusion in the model of the sample sequencing depth (centred(sic) around the mean and scaled by dividing by the standard deviation) and its interaction with climatic treatment was done in order to account for potential differences in bacterial load and/or bacterial diversity sampling through sequencing (i.e. different sequencing depth among samples) between climates”

        “In short, every one of your points is either wrong or irrelevant.”

        Specious claims seafreezebrain0.

        Unlike your vague misrepresentation of my critiques, my comments and those of many others here, e.g. MarkW refer directly to the alleged research, the absurd childish notions of the researchers nd their violation of normal research procedures.

        Statistical analysis can expand how some experimental information is viewed. Statistics can not replace simple analysis and direct data review!

        What is inexplicable is how this kind of trashy research makes it through any honest review!

      • Atheok,
        This is propably far too late to get viewed, but what the hell, your comment is just so wrong it requires correction.
        “They randomized lizards? That is a stunningly stupid step to take.
        That is neither the purpose nor means to achieving what randomize is meant to achieve. i.e. remove institutional, personal, researcher, educator influences and biases.”

        After the lengthy acclimatization period the lizards were gathered and randomly assigned to either the control, warm or hot group. You say this is “stunningly stupid step to take”
        It is clear you have no understanding of this experiment.

        As random assignment is a stupid step, do you think they should have been assigned using some other criterion, such as color, or tail length, or cuteness? I mean, it is stupid as you can imagine to suggest that random assigment is the wrong way to go about this. Random is really the only way to go. You seem to have zero understanding of this experiment.

        “Back to the lizards.
        Lizard living conditions – assumed.
        Lizard health conditions and food sources – assumed”

        For heavens sake, before calling people idiots at least read the paper. Living condition and food sources were described in detail. they were not assumed.

        “Without “pure controls”, untouched by the researchers, there is zero proof that the researchers did not personally cause conditions they are test for and writing about.”

        The control is a group of lizards treated in exactly the same way, brought up in exactly the same way, provided with the same environment except the test parameter. It is clear you have no understanding of experimental design. It is arrogant of you, who clearly knows so little, to call other people idiots.

        I find it hard to even understand what you mean by “pure controls untouched by the researchers” Are you saying that a drug trial must consist of a group that is tested and another group that is untouched by the researchers? How could that possiby work? The control group must be “touched by the researchers” to ensure they are a control group. It is very clear that you do not understand how scientofic tests are conducted.

        “C) What kills captive lizards quickest is lack of sufficient moisture. Insufficient water, desiccated lizard. Insufficient water, desiccated lizard gut flora and fauna.”

        I said this point had no point, but that was before I understood the extent of your ignorance, so I will explain further. All the lizards were “captive” in the same way. That is, the control group and the test group were both “captive” inexactly the same way. Therefore everything you say applies equally to the control group and the test group. Therefore everything you say has no relevence to differences between the control group and the test group. The study identified differences between the control group and the test group. Your point was a general comment about lizard health that was controlled for, therefore your point has no point.

        D. You complain that the mecahnism of control is not worth posting in detail. I say that the detail is in the paper. You reply
        “Since when?
        The supplementary information is where the research methods, research data, relevant graphs, mathematical formula are described and justified.”
        No, for god’s sake. The supplenentary informtion is SUPPLEMENTARY. Sorry to shout, but is seems necessary. That is why it is called supplementary information. It is not where the methods are described and justified. That would be in the methods and discussion parts of the paper.

        “Then again you are not used to reviewing real science or scientific research seafreezebrain0”
        Actually I am. I hope to god that you are not.

      • ” frozenseabrain0 May 12, 2017 at 4:41 pm

        “Atheok”,

        This is propably (sic) far too late to get viewed, but what the hell, your comment is just so wrong it requires correction.”

        Again and again, you make the worst possible claims and assumptions.
        What really bugs you, I you are unable to frame this horrible research into anything remotely resembling sanity.

        ” frozenseabrain0 May 12, 2017 at 4:41 pm

        “ATheoK They randomized lizards? That is a stunningly stupid step to take.” That is neither the purpose nor means to achieving what randomize is meant to achieve. i.e. remove institutional, personal, researcher, educator influences and biases.”

        After the lengthy acclimatization period the lizards were gathered and randomly assigned to either the control, warm or hot group. You say this is “stunningly stupid step to take”
        It is clear you have no understanding of this experiment.

        As random assignment is a stupid step, do you think they should have been assigned using some other criterion, such as color, or tail length, or cuteness? I mean, it is stupid as you can imagine to suggest that random assigment (sic) is the wrong way to go about this. Random is really the only way to go. You seem to have zero understanding of this experiment.”

        Again and again, you sling out insults and false claims.

        The research was quoted directly.

        Any inability to understand is fully yours, either you refuse to read the research, or you refuse to accept the research’s plain literal meanings.

        In spite of your straw men falsehoods, ad hominems, inability to read and understand; you sealicebrain0 is unable to grasp what research;
        A) Should be
        B) or when research isn’t any of the above.

        Right now, that lizard research you are unable to quantify, qualify, defend or even restate reliably is research waiting for retraction at retractionwatch.

        It takes more than a miracle to rescue bad research from retraction. It takes actual efforts at conducting said research properly from the beginning.

        In spite of all your hand waving, every diversion and distraction you pretend, you are unable to define what quality research looks like.

        Right from the beginning of the research, you sealicebrain0, are unable to explain why the poorly designed, badly constructed, horrifically run lizard containment research!?

        In the real world, the sheer wealth and abundance of wildlife available for proper research is near infinite.
        All it takes is a careful research design to capture, sample and release free running and quite healthy lizards.
        Thanks to slight variations in Earth’s climate on separate hemispheres; it is possible to run the research nearly without cease.

        100% effort can be made to keep the lizards healthy, research conditions exacting, research quality superb.
        Instead of the amateur designed, amateur run, hap hazard lethal to lizards current version of research.

        Every thing absolutely wrong with the lizard research has been well defined above.
        Again and again selicebrain0, you have failed to describe the research properly, according to the research author’s own quotes; you have refused sealicebrain0, to admit your own personal errors and biases.

        You sealicebrain0 are blind because you refuse to see. You are deaf because you refuse to hear. Sealicebrain0, your brain is unable to think, because you refuse to allow your brain the ability to reason and think.

        Enjoy your slimy holes under the rocks, selicebrain0.

  7. The most obvious big flaw in this “experiment” is that it has 1) no relationship to the hypothesized 2 to 3 degree increase in global temperatures and 2) no relationship to the lizards natural environment. As for flaw number one – even if the temps do rise 2 to 3 degrees over the next century, subjecting a species to a sudden 3 degree higher environment in no way models the supposed future environmental event, which requires a span of many decades (not to mention many generations of lizards, quite capable of evolutionary change when required).
    As for number two – species are free to roam the planet – any increase in global temps will not constrain lizards to living in a box whose temperature is (exactly what??!!) . An experiment this flawed does not belong in a university setting. This is third grade stuff. Bad third grade stuff.

    • Add to that, the crux of evolution is ‘adaptation’. When the environment changes, species either adapt to the new condition(s) or go extinct, to be replaced by better-adapted varieties.

      If these “researchers” (used in the loosest sense) want to find out the results, they need to allow a number of generations of lizards to adapt to these “new” conditions. Once we have 20 – 30 generations of lizards under these conditions, let us check again to see if the bacteria have adapted to the “new” conditions.

      • Not to mention that fact that even if the worst case scenario does come about, it will take about 100 lizard generations for the temperatures to rise 2-3C anyway.

      • What Vlad said…transient response to an environmental change is not the same as a 30 year period of “climate change”.

        This wouldn’t even make a good grade-school science project.

      • I also don’t see in their supplemental material where they handled other climate factors. Apparently they increased the absolute temperature by 2-3 degrees but kept humidity the same, so the heat index was increased by how much?

        All they say is that the temperature was controlled by shutters, and only in the summer, so they effectively stressed certain lizards that couldn’t escape the sun in the hottest part of the year because they were constrained within an unnaturally small enclosure with an unnaturally high density of other lizards.

        So I’ll propose another title for this paper: Constraining alpine lizards to an enclosure within an unnatural biome and providing them with inadequate shade creates a stressful environment.

    • Not only are lizards capable of adapting to a 2 to 3 degree increase in temperatures over decades, but bacteria are even more adaptable since they reproduce much more quickly than lizards. The ancestors of today’s bacteria survived ice ages and warm periods with greater than 3 degrees of change. Of course, if you speed up the warming from decades to days, you do not allow for this adaptation to occur.

    • Arthur,

      As it is a 3 degree average increase that is likely to be experienced as an decrease of the killing cold of winter nights rather than any noticeable increase in daytime maximums, 1) is bogusly represented in the study in the first place!

  8. man trains flea to jump by ringing bell.
    observes that when removing legs of flea flea no longer responds to bell
    concludes that flea’s ears are in its legs.

  9. “Climate change is now considered as the greatest threat to biodiversity and ecological networks”

    Considered by whom, computer models? Do they have any real-world data to support this supposition? And which form of climate change is the greater threat? Is it the warming predicted by models, or the cooling currently freezing the grapes in France? Using unproven assumptions as your premise will lead you to a false conclusion.

    • “Climate change is now considered as the greatest threat to biodiversity and ecological networks”

      They forgot to use this qualifier when making the above statement: “If CAGW climate scientists are correct,”.

      All such studies should have this qualifier added. Otherwise, they are assuming facts not in evidence.

  10. I don’t own a lizard, but, given what I found (so far) about Bearded Dragons (a popular pet lizard), the hypothesis of a “small rise in temperature” being likely to cause significant problems with a lizard’s digestive tract seems poorly thought-through (at best).

    1. Heating is not considered a significant cause of digestivie bacteria imbalance:

    How Does Bacteria Get Out of Whack in the First Place?
    — Improper Diet …
    — Antibiotics …
    — Parasites …
    — Deworming {heh, this one is about dogs, I think, but, I wanted to include all the named categories} …
    — Steroids …

    (Source: http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2009/05/11/your-pet-s-good-health-begins-in-their-gut.aspx )

    2. The optimal temperature range for Bearded Dragons is WIDE and cold is more of a danger than heat.

    Bearded Dragon Cage And Heating Requirements
    BY BY MARGARET A. WISSMAN, DVM, DABVP

    Q: I’ve got a bearded dragon, …

    A: If you check back through the archives, I have discussed caging, husbandry and temperature ranges for beardies previously {heh}. However, I’ll go through the basics for you.

    … a focal hot spot that reaches up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. …

    The cooler side of the habitat should be around 75 to 85 degrees. At night, the cage temperature can drop into the 60s but no lower for pets (breeders can undergo a deeper chilling, but a pet should not be subjected to night-time temperatures lower than the 60s). …

    (Source: http://www.reptilesmagazine.com/Lizard-Care/Bearded-Dragon-Cage-And-Husbandry/ )

    Yes, impacts on wild lizards will be different — perhaps, they are more fragile, used to more stable conditions, perhaps, they are LESS fragile, experiencing and developing a tolerance for more extremes. Since the attempt above is about a non-wild scenario, I hope what I posted will be at least a little bit helpfully relevant.

    It would be interesting to hear from anyone who has a “beardie” for a pet. They can probably testify with expert knowledge that a Bearded Dragon is a pretty hardy little creature.

    • Yes, impacts on wild lizards will be different — perhaps, they are more fragile, used to more stable conditions, perhaps, they are LESS fragile, experiencing and developing a tolerance for more extremes. Since the attempt above is about a non-wild scenario, I hope what I posted will be at least a little bit helpfully relevant.

      Janice–my observations indicate that as we progress into the hottest part of the Texas summer, the lizards (3 species at least) that have the run of my place get more and more active. One little Guy/Girl that lives under the porch loves to come out on to a sun heated rock and do push-ups–an activity that would probably result in the end for this old goat.

      • Lol, J.V. :) (psst — I think it is a guy….. he seems to be trying to say, “I — am — a — TOUGH — dude. Back off!” — and also, that’s what the nature show narrator essentially said on a different video — I don’t recall if only males do that though (in Lizardom).

        Lizard doing push-ups — “Back off, nutty buddy! This is MY rock! …. (mutter, mutter, mutter….. who knows WHAT dealing with that pesky varmint will do to my intestinal bacteria…… better go drink some acidophilous)”

        (youtube)

        Thanks for sharing that!

    • There is a really cool National Park called “The Petrified Forest National Park”.

      Located in Northeast Arizona near Holbrook, the Petrified Forest can be quite chilly in winter and down right Arizona toasty in summer.

      When original constructed, the workers mixed petrified stone chips into the asphalt used to make walking paths through many parts of the park. Now that the petrified wood chips are exposed, their beautiful colors are amazing against the asphalt.

      During the heat of the day it is amazing to see how well lizards have gotten used to the presence of humans.

      When in a good looking lizard area, brush, larger rocks; just stand still on the asphalt trail and tilt one foot off of the ground.

      If you’re in a decent area, a lizard, whip tails and even collard lizard will dash out and take advantage of the shade your foot provides. You can watch the lizard alternate feet to minimize contact with the asphalt. If you are with someone, you can alternate who is providing shade and gain some motility back.

      Now the trick is to get control of your foot back. Squashing the lizard is not nice. The whiptails should run if you try and catch them. Collard lizards are not always so obliging.

      While you’re on the asphalt trails, avoid the shiny black areas as the good Arizona sun has melted the asphalt again. Not that one usually cares about trails shoes, just be aware that the first light colored carpet you walk across over the next few days may show black tread marks.

      I should mention, that in other desert areas, like Nevada, I and my cousins have dismantled large rock piles trying to convince collard lizards to come home with us.

      Usually we just end up with lots of scorpions for fish bait or other boy type fun.
      The easiest way to find scorpions is at night with a UV light. Don’t catch the small ones around caves!

  11. “Given the importance of bacteria to digestion, it is crucial that more research is now carried out to investigate this overlooked effect of climate change.”

    i.e., we need to keep this gravy train rolling.

  12. Another Act from ‘The Theatre of The Absurd’
    And the gov’t *pays* these supernumeraries for junk-science like this?

  13. “Changing gut bacteria” is the new frontier in the publication mill for research tenure and promotion. The possibilities are endless, especially near the end.

    • RG, for a simple reason. With the dramatically lower cost of genotyping and with the growing library of bacterial genotypes, it is now cheap and easy to automate the microbiome identification. Not relative quantities, but the diversity among individuals. As was done here, but incorrectly because mortality changed the diversity pool.

  14. Lizards adjust for temperature changes. Being stuck in a temperature they can’t escape from doesn’t tell us anything.

    Here is how it works: In spring, they come out in the middle of the day, because that is when it is warm enough to function. As spring progresses into summer and temperatures rise, they come out earlier and retire as it gets too hot, reappearing later in the day when it cools down. When it gets too hot, they estivate until things cool down on the way to fall season. They are free to manage their own temperature. In the above experiment, they aren’t allowed to do that. Very poorly designed experiment.

    If climate warms up, they simply shift the times they are up to fit the temperature. No big deal.

    I’ve been hunting lizards and snakes for over 40 years, and this has been my experience.

    • This brings me to two stupid questions:

      1) If the “warmed” groups had lower bacteria counts, is this a possible reflection that the “warmed” groups had ‘more efficient’ or ‘better utilized’ bacteria, hence, they did not need as many bugs inside to accomplish the same goal?

      2) If the control group maintained the same level of bacteria, how do we know that “warmed” food sources were identical to the control? In other words, in the natural environment, does a “warmed” world supply the same level of replenishment through the food sources to all groups, experimental, and control?

      It would almost seem that food sources would need to be switched, and the permutations investigated, to remove an uncontrolled variable.

      I could be wrong … … …

  15. Does anyone else get the feeling that the ranks of the science establishment are populated with people who knew how to pass tests and tell their professors what they wanted to hear?

  16. To be retracted when they discover that the lizards had been licking the glue that holds the box together.

  17. Seems this study could provide plenty of raw materials for those “faecal transplants”.

    • Yup. And what is sad is, these are very likely legitimate, earnest, biologists who only want to know more about the digestive tract bacteria of reptiles.

      SO SAD that they can’t just say: Say, Funder Dunders! We’d like to do some basic research about digestive bacteria. How about it? and receive as an answer

      Sure! Here ya go!

  18. I’m not a biologist by trade, but I do keep extremely rare lizards as pets (legally – a difficult but not impossible thing if you have enough money). I’m also involved with conservation (because I care), and so there is plenty of interaction with academic biologists and practicing zoologists as well as private individuals who share my hobby. I haven’t read the details of this experiment, so this is off-the-cuff commentary on the scientific environment, not the specifics of the experiment per se.

    1) Academics trust other academics way too much – even the sketchiest of conclusions sometimes wind up being taken as gospel, to the point where I sometimes wonder what freaking planet they live on because it’s not this one.

    2) Academics gravitate towards disaster scenarios. Any change horrifies them. Optimism about change in the environment is treated as religious delusion (bask in the irony of that for a moment, please). I’m an atheist, and some of the conversations I have with academic scientists are just as strange and uncomfortable for me – in the exact same way – as dealing with deeply religious people (if that’s your thing, then that’s your thing – I don’t hate or dislike you, but I do think it’s weird. You’re perfectly free to think I’m weird too. It’s cool. We can still get along). This doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of bad-to-awful changes, but there are far more predictions of strongly negative outcomes than there are actual negative outcomes of any magnitude.

    3) Nature adapts extremely well. This is probably why the Earth isn’t a barren rock right now, because plenty of things (of which human activity is some tiny sliver of 1%) have tried to kill us all. Our captive animals do “scientifically impossible” stuff on a regular basis. Of course, it’s not really “scientifically impossible,” it’s just that the conclusions they are violating were arrived at without much actual science taking place.

    4) Lizards adapt better than most. Freakishly well. There are plenty of people that do a downright awful job of keeping lizards as pets and it doesn’t kill the animals. The common belief that lizards are boring pets is largely based on the fact that most lizards kept as pets are half dead – and they can stay that way for years (all the necessary info is available for free on the Internet, so no excuses for these idiots). With proper care they are quite vibrant and interactive animals, with a surprising amount of personality. In any case, if I had a dime for every time a so-called scientist told me that a 2º-5º C change in environment temperature (or similarly small changes in humidity, UV light exposure, etc) would be the end of the lizard world and I already knew for a fact that people were keeping very healthy animals (as far as we can measure, and we do) with those changes… I could afford to buy a lot more lizards.

    • “Academics gravitate towards disaster scenarios. Any change horrifies them. Optimism about change in the environment is treated as religious delusion (bask in the irony of that for a moment, please).”

      I have noticed a marked similarity between what I call “climate porn” websites and bible prophecy websites. They both obsess over weather/world events as proof that the end of the world is nigh.

  19. Paper is paywalled, but read the SI, which gives some big clues as to what is actually going on. There were three sets of 3 ‘Metratron’ 100m2 semi outdoor enclosures, all supposedly identical in plants and food invertibrates. Controlled for moisture and temp, netted to prevent predation. Three each for Present climate ‘PC’ avg june-sept temp 26.6C, peak 29.5C, intermediate ‘IC’ J-S avg 28.2 peak 31.5, and warm ‘WC’ avg 28.4 peak 32.1. All stocked June 2012 with near identical numbers (~30) of adult and juvenile matched sex ratio wild caught lizards. Left for 1 year, but only the summer months June -Sept had IC or WC. the fall, winter, and spring were PC in all nine enclosures.
    All the surviving lizards were caught May 2013 and the cloaca sampled for bacteria. But they ended up having to exclude the IC group from the final analysis, because in one of the IC enclosures only 3 lizards survived the year. The SI specifically says that the reduced WC gut flora had TWO causes: 2-3C, and higher mortality. They therfore don’t know The temperature impact alone because of the mortality difference.That detail never made it to the abstract or the PR.

    Looked up other papers on lizard microbiomes. (Weird, two in 2017 already.) Turns out captivity by itself changes microbiomes. Turns out that in the wild, there is a significant degree of individual variation depending on accidental juvenile diet, which is mainly how lizards pick up the bacteria from the insects they eat. Now the experimental method for this paper simply threw all the PC or WC samples together for genetic analysis to identify all the bacteria in all the lizard cohort. The reported 34% reduction in WC microbiome gut flora species compared to PC could simply be from fewer surviving individuals, so automatically less bacterial diversity.
    Without controlling for mortality and individual lizard bacterial diversity, this pseudoresult is just more junk climate science.

    • I don’t know the natural population density for these lizards, but after seeing the mortality rates being so high for all enclosures, I suspected that the density in the enclosures were higher than in nature. There was no connection at all between microbial gut content/density and mortality.

      Also notice that the lizards were captured from a north facing alpine forest at 4,100′ elevation at a higher latitude and enclosed in netted cages in an open field next to a road at 1,100′ elevation. So their PC enclosures were very likely already warmer than their natural environment to begin with, not to mention the myriad of environmental differences.

      • Definitely.

        Z. vivipara is a high latitude and high altitude lizard, but tolerates a wide range of temperatures.

        Still, the environments concocted by the “researchers” for restricted mobility lizards would not occur in nature.

    • This. We’ve found is that many lizards are highly stressed by environmental changes that seem trivial to us mammals. And then some aren’t – even identical species from the same clutch. There is a range of “personalities” and stress response from animals that are genetically very similar. We deal with lizards that are bigger/smarter than anoles, but one thing I’ve learned is to never underestimate their capacity for complex behavior.

      In any case – again, I don’t know the details – but I would suspect that a valid experiment would require much larger environments and at least two or three generations of animals to produce good results. It’s probably a 5-10 year project, at least. There’s been one well-documented example of small lizards massively changing their digestive and metabolic systems to adapt to changes in food supply over a 50-year period, so adapting to a few degrees in temperature and variations in gut bacteria is probably not going to be an issue. If it was, it would likely be a very odd corner case.

  20. Thanks, Anthony, for yet another example of academic garbage.

    This line says it all. “Given the importance of bacteria to digestion, it is crucial that more research is now carried out to investigate this overlooked effect of climate change.”

    Send the money now! As a scientist, I cringe every time one of these papers appears but please keep them coming. They fully deserve the ridicule that they get here.

  21. This “research” is particularly preposterous, since Zootoca vivipara has such a wide geographic and altitudinal range, and has adapted to so many different environments. The viviparous or common lizard lives farther north than any other non-marine reptile species. Its range extends north of the Arctic Circle. It’s widely distributed across Eurasia from Ireland to Hokkaido and Sakhalin Islands. (There may be no snakes, but there are lizards in Ireland.)

    In the southern parts of its distribution, the species lives at high elevations, occurring as high as 3000 meters above sea level in the Alps. In these areas, the viviparous lizard lives in damp locations, often near water, including meadows, swamps, rice fields, by brooks and in damp forests. In the northern part of the range, Z. vivipara is also found in lowlands, where it occurs in drier environments, including open woodland, meadows, moorland, heathland, fens, dunes, rocks, roadsides, hedgerows and gardens. It lives mainly on the ground, although it may climb onto rocks, logs and low-growing vegetation.

    If any land vertebrate order is well equipped to deal with “global warming”, it’s surely squamates, which date at least from the Triassic-Jurassic boundary, when Pangaea started splitting apart. Lizards and snakes diversified wonderfully during the hottest part of the Mesozoic, to include dominating Late Cretaceous seas, as mosasaurs, which evolved rapidly from terrestrial Texan lizards, while ichthyosaurs were going extinct.

    • Other instances of rapid lizard and snake adaptation and evolution abound, to include observed speciation events.

      After the extinction of large dinosaur predators, gigantic snakes became top predators in some habitats, as too of course did big, flightless birds, replacing their theropod kin.

      • Squamates have also repeatedly evolved leglessness. But only snakes have lost their eyelids and external ears as well.

        A fascinating order.

    • One of the evolutionary advantages of squamates is the variety of their reproductive strategies. Most lay eggs, but many give live birth, like Z. vivipara (hence its specific name). Pathenogensis is also fairly common.

      A new hybrid species recently created in the lab reproduces parthenogenetically, ie it clones itself. The hybrids are usually sterile, but one experimental female managed to reproduce without mating, as has been widely observed in other, wild lizard species.

  22. Doesn’t say what species of lizards, just wild caught. Without knowing which species was used as a sampling, this research project comes off as invalid. Since there are at least 4.675 species of lizards on this little planet of ours, some of which are kept as pets and live quite well for years. The natural lifespan of a lizard can run anywhere from 1 to 20 years. Iguanas, for example, will live from 10 to 12 years as pets and some have exceeded 20 years in length. Monitor lizards kept in captivity have lived past 20 years.

    This seems more like an episode of animal cruelty than anything else, the implication being that the real purpose of the study was to find out how long it would take to decimate the captive population of lizards than anything else. And the study doesn’t mention what specific food resources these lizards were supplied with, whether or not they had adequate water and ventilation and what diseases they were exposed to, never mind the shock of capture and restricted movement. My guess is that the dead samples starved to death and may have even become dehydrated, and the temperature had less to do with it than carelessness on the part of these bumbling researchers.

    These people were/are idiots. I think they should be charged with animal cruelty.

    I once knew a gila monster who told me he was an apatasaurus on his mother’s side. We all have our dreams, you know.

    Lizard lives matter!!!!!

  23. Reminds me of my undergraduate zoology days. A fill in the blanks exam question correctly answered was (hypotheticals from memory, as I changed careers decades ago):
    Lack of (Vitamin C) and (fruits) causes (scurvy) in hogs.

    One student not incorrectly answered:
    Lack of (food) and (water) causes (death) in hogs.

    • Swine, like all mammal species except for the closest primate relatives of humans, ie tarsiers, monkeys and other apes, plus guinea pigs, their caviid kin capybaras and many, if not all bats, can make their own vitamin C.

      The caviid and bat genes for vitamin C are broken in different places from the nonfunctional simian gene and from each other.

      • The vast majority of vertebrate species can synthesize vitamin C. Among mammals, it’s at least 4000 out of some 5500, depending upon how you rate bats.

        When I was a biology undergrad, 1969-73, only the Indian fruit-eating bat was known not to be able to make its own vitamin C. Now, it appears that Chiroptera as a whole is in the process of losing this ability. Most have lost it completely. In a test of 34 species from six major families, including both insect- and fruit-eating bats, all were found to have lost the capacity to synthesize it. This loss may derive from a common bat ancestor, as a single mutation. However, recent results show that there are at least two species of bat, the frugivorous Rousettus leschenaultii and insectivorous Hipposideros armiger, that have retained their ability to produce vitamin C.

        In the simian case, it clearly is from a single mutation in the last common ancestor of tarsiers, monkeys and apes. I don’t know enough about the cavy rodent case to conclude whether there were a single ancestral event or both species lost the ability independently, or even if other cavies besides capybara and guinea pigs have been tested for vitamin C functionality. I don’t know if the two caviid species’ genes are broken in the same way, which would support a single mutation, but do know that the guinea pig mutation is different from both at least one bat’s and the primate break.

      • Chimp, you have got to post here more. Devise some neat stuff. I made a stab over at Judith Curry’s recently on the climate related transition from hunter gatherer to sedentary agriculture. Completely out of my wheelhouse, and inspired by a guest post here. Survived mostly intact until Javier pointed out was not a new idea amongst anthropologists, only recently coming into acceptance. We all learned something. Contribute here more than comments, please.

      • I don’t know enough about the relevant disciplines to write a worthwhile post about “climate science”, but do have sufficient scientific background, IMO to comment.

        If our esteemed host wanted to expand the blog into the life sciences, I could contribute, or even geology, although there are commenters here far better educated and more experienced in that field than I.

        And if I posted something about my areas of expertise in the life sciences, the many creationist readers of this blog would be disturbed. The most interesting area of research in this century has been origin of life, since it promises so much to increase our understanding and make possible great advances in the basic science behind medicine. But to creationists the chemical evolution leading to the onset of life, ie self-replicating, metabolizing organic chemical compounds capable of biological evolution, is anathema to be resisted into the last trench.

      • Chimp,

        You don’t have to just write about climate science. The site mission is

        News and commentary on puzzling things in life, nature, science, weather, climate change, technology, and recent news

        You can write on nature, science in general or puzzling things about life.

      • And upsetting people is the last of the worries! Facts go where they may. Personally I don’t have a dog in the creation evolution debate, but for the beginning it comes down to faith either way. We see a common genetic pathway, but not the how or responding to what of how the path was trod. As long as people stay civil about it, I don’t have any problem arguing either side.

      • Owen,

        There is no scientific debate between biology and creationists. Evolution is a scientific fact, ie an observation, and creationism is not science. There is also a body of theory seeking to explain the natural and experimental observations, same as with every other scientific theory, such as universal gravitation. Evolution is far better understood than gravitation.

        No faith is required to observe the fact of evolution. Creationism is nothing but blind faith, without a shred of scientific evidence in its favor. That “God did it!” is not a scientific hypothesis, subject to test and falsification of predictions made on its basis. Every prediction of creationism has been shown false, none of which was based upon a scientific hypothesis, since supernatural non-explanations aren’t scientific.

        Our hosts’ mission statement has, it appears, changed more to concentrate on “climate science”. I can’t take the time to write an article about, say, recent advances in origin of life research, which then might be deemed unsuitable.

        Nor do I consider it helpful to the skeptics’ case to be associated with the creationists who would be driven out of the woodwork here by such a post. Their comments here just confirm the CACA charge that skeptics about consensus “climate science” are also against the sciences of biology, geology, physics, chemistry, astronomy, meteorology, etc, all of which are irreconcilably contrary to the Bible, which also irreconcilably contradicts itself.

      • Chimp, let me argue the contrary despite my fully understanding your reluctance from personal experience. Truth will out. period. I previously took on Roy Spencer re ID despite defending him on his UAH measurements. The world is a complicted place. You apparently have much to offer. Please do so

      • Thanks for your kind words.

        I feel I am making contributions already, but will consider submitting something for our host’s consideration.

  24. Skim… ““More testing is now needed”… Stop. Elapsed time. 5 seconds.

  25. Well, they did a bang up job identifying the “need” for more money. Not the customary one or two lines but ….

    “More testing is now needed, and it is highly possible that we will see similar effects in other ectotherms (cold-blooded animals such as reptiles and amphibians which depend on external sources of body heat).”

    “Given the importance of bacteria to digestion, it is crucial that more research is now carried out to investigate this overlooked effect of climate change.”

    “Climate change is now considered as the greatest threat to biodiversity and ecological networks, but Dr Bestion said its impacts on the bacteria associated with plants and animals remain largely unknown.”

    “We are only now starting to understand the importance of gut microbiota in the physiology of all species, including humans,” she said.

    “These bacteria are linked to everything from digestion to immunity and obesity.

    “The gut is the latest health craze in humans – with everything from probiotic yoghurts to faecal transplants being marketed – but almost no studies have been done on how the changing climate will affect these microbes.”

    • T in F (like me at the moment) eat less and exercise more is an amazingly good alternative to the gut flora excuse for obesity. In fact, I think that if you also ate less carbs and more fruits/vegetables/meats, your gut flora would slowly change even without the exercise component. Because exercise has nothing to do with gut flora. Flora~calories ingested. Exercise~calories expended. Weight gain/loss~Delta energy in/out. Plus/minus. Not complicated at a high level.

      • I hope you don’t think I was agreeing with them. I was just quoting the “we need more money” requests. As an aside, many years ago I worked for a company that had a AAA personality boss who wanted to lose some weight. So he put out a challenge to all employees that he would pay $500 cash to the person who could lose the highest percent of body weight in 90 days (himself included). I won the contest losing 36 pounds. I did it on a pasta diet where I would have a Slim Fast and banana for breakfast, a bowl of vegetable soup for lunch, an apple for an afternoon snack and for dinner a big bowl of pasta with marinara along with some bread and butter and milk. Dinner was as much as I cared to eat to be satisfied. I also worked my way up to a 4 mile circuit morning where I would walk the first mile, jog the next two and walk the last mile. About a week later I ran into an old friend who has lost about 30 pounds recently. We discussed the methods, he went on an Atkins diet and he ran everyday. So he was on a low carb, high fat, medium protein diet and I was on a high carb, low fat, medium protein diet. We both lost about the same amount of weight. The common denominator with us both was the road work. For sheer weight loss it is all about calories in and calories out.

  26. A tip to those here who really want to dig into the science. Papers may be paywalled, but their SI usually are not. Go there first to figure out whether the Nature paper sans abstract is worth paying $32 for (my choice). NOT in this case. That is how I dug out the equivalent sudden SLR BS in Oleary, Nature Geoscience (2013), essay By Land or by Sea, the BS on coral acidification by Fabricius in Nature Climate Change, essay Shell Games, and Marcott’s academic misconduct hockey stick in Science (2013), all revealed in ebook Blowing Smoke. It gets easy with some practice. Unraveling this junk science took an hour, mostly learning about lizards. Writing it up less than perfect took 30 minutes. Time well spent as AW elevated the comment. Regards to all here.

  27. I want to know who paid for this….was it my tax dollar?…this seems like the most useless study I can imagine….effects of warming on gut bacteria in lizards.,..geesh

  28. Climate “Science” is corrupting the entire scientific enterprise. What could have been a genuinely useful and substantive investigation into lizard gut flora was turned into dross by the need to shoehorn in the climate change dogma.

    • Yes! Just think of the commercial applications. Ne, improved, probiotic Purina Lizard Chow!

      • I’m left wondering if my Pavlovian response to your comment has anything to do with my older sister feeding me dog biscuits when I was a little tyke?

  29. I haven’t read all of the comments, so someone has probably pointed this out already. But here goes: CLIMATE CHANGE OF 2 TO 3 DEGREES IS SUPPOSED TO TAKE 100 YEARS! Instantly making it 2 to 3 degrees warmer for individual animals is completely different from a gradual warming over 100 years for an entire species. There is this little thing called adaptation that is key to the untouchable theory of evolution. Climate change science concerning species continuously denies the power of adaptation, and in the process, denies the theory of evolution!

    Talk about anti-science!

    • Good point! Though I doubt evolution could be any factor in one generation, there are likely to be many variations of possible genetic expressions “learned” from past evolutionary successes along the line that could be influenced by and optimized for specific environmental conditions present during gestation and newborn life. E.G. Is lizard gut bacteria possibly a dimorphic factor whereby whatever mommy lizard is eating at the time she becomes pregnant influences her offspring to favor the same?

      As you stated, in real life it would take many generations of lizards to experience an increase of over 2 degrees and in that time they could either move to a higher altitude or revert to eating alternative sources of food present at a warmer time for the ancestors. Plopping some lizards into a hot box doesn’t even qualify for a middle school science fair project IMO.

      It’s a real shame to think that more important studies done by serious scientists in other fields are being sidelined for this kind of slipshod CAGW oriented nonsense.

  30. Curiously, on my travels in foreign parts I have noticed that the warmer the climate the larger and more numerous the lizards, and there is nothing they like more than basking in the Sun, the hotter the better, roads are a particular favourite basking spot – much to the delight of the various scavengers.
    I have observed lizards basking on rocks that were too hot to put my hand on.
    I call BS.

  31. I decided to do my own research and was astonished to find that lizards are indeed susceptible to elevated temperature.

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