View of endangered animals coloured by patterns

01 June 2008


Researchers studying Australia reptiles have found an important predictor of an animal's likelihood of ending up on an endangered list: its colour scheme.

The Common Death Adder (Acanthophis antarcticus)Swedish University of Kalmar scientists Anders Forsman and Viktor Aberg looked at 323 species of Australian lizards and snakes and rated them according to whether or not the animal had a fixed colour scheme.  Animals with variable coloration, they found, tended to have much larger ranges, lived in a broader set of habitat types and were much less likely to be on the endangered list than their counterparts with non-variable coloration.

They suggest that this is because variably-coloured animals are adapted to exploit a range of environments and food types and are therefore inherently less vulnerable.

The finding could, therefore, be a useful pointer in considering future conservation strategies and in identifying species that might subsequently merit special measures to protect them.


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