A shift in reptile diversity and abundance over the last 25 years

Rachel Schwarz, Gavin Stark, Shai Meiri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The south-facing slopes in canyons, oriented along an east-west axis north of the equator, are often hotter and drier than north-facing slopes, promoting differences in the biotic and abiotic characteristics of the opposing slopes. We studied how diversity and abundance patterns have changed in Oren stream (Carmel Mountains, Israel) during the last 25 years. We tested whether temperature and habitat preferences of reptiles affected observation frequencies, to assess potential effects of global warming on the reptiles. We compared the results of a 1993-1994 survey in Oren stream to a survey we conducted during 2017-2018, using similar methods, survey area and effort. Species composition and abundance in Oren stream did not significantly change between studies, but the proportion of observations differed significantly across slopes for four out of the six most abundant species. The number of observations increased monotonically with increasing temperatures on the south-facing slope, but decreased on the north-facing slope above a temperature of 22°C. The major biome species inhabit globally was unrelated to the number of observations across slopes or studies, but species inhabiting warmer ranges were more frequently observed in the current survey. Our results suggest that as global temperatures rise, reptile species which can tolerate higher temperatures, and those which can avoid the hottest temperatures of the day, may be able to cope better. These results however may also derive from better detection ability of some species over others between study teams.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-20
Number of pages11
JournalIsrael Journal of Ecology and Evolution
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2019


  • Oren stream
  • detectability
  • global warming
  • north-facing slope
  • south-facing slope
  • survey

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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