Rapidly changing climate is making fishes, reptiles, and amphibians ages faster and is decreasing their expected life expectancy, said a new study.
Experts said that the findings that were found here could play a vital role in improving our understanding of how climate change is capable of affecting the aging of certain species.
The study could be used to create specialized conservation plans for these animals.
According to the study, organisms that belong to the category of ectotherms, an animal that has their body temperatures change according to the environment they are living in, are getting to experience a rise in growth rates and heat stress.
These animals are being affected the most by increased global temperatures and heat waves because they are not capable of generating heat internally.
With hotter temperatures, their body temperatures are rising too, which means they are aging faster than before.
Germán Orizaola, a researcher at the Joint Institute for Biodiversity Research of the University of Oviedo and co-author of the study, talked about the study and said:
Heatwaves take animals out of their thermal preferences, to the point even of reaching their temperature tolerance limits. The longer and more frequent the heat waves, the greater their impact on the physiology of ectotherms. Higher growth rates will generate physiological imbalances in ectotherms, increasing, for example, oxidative damage to the proteins and DNA, which may also affect the telomeres, the repeated sections of non-coding DNA located at the ends of chromosomes.
Telomeres protect DNA, but when they are lost, cells degrade faster, and the body ages faster.
Telomeres provide protection to the coding sequences in the DNA and every time a cell splits, it can lead to loss or shortening of telomeres.
Talking about telomeres, Orizaola said:
As telomeres protect DNA, the faster the telomeres are lost, the faster the cells degrade and the body ages. This clear link between climate change and ageing is described for the first time in our article.
She also warned that fast aging due to climate change has severe implications on natural populations.
The co-author continued:
One rather clear consequence is that if the life expectancy of individuals in a population is reduced, their ability to produce offspring may be compromised.
Due to decreased lifespans, external events like severe flood, diseases, and droughts will play a huge role in the recovery capacity of the species.
That will also lead to reduced reproduction during offspring.
Researchers also wrote in the study that the rapid aging of a specie can affect other species that form a part of its ecological network.
In the study, the authors said that the fastened aging of ectothermic animals are capable of affecting the number of prey, parasites, and competitors.
Animals that are already low in total number are also at more risk of going extinct.
The study that we are talking about getting published in the Global Change Biology journal.q