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Island fragmentation by sea level rise and global warming drive prehistoric extinctions in Mediterranean island reptiles
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  • Samual Kalb,
  • Kenneth Rijsdijk,
  • Johannes De Groeve,
  • Lieve Denkers,
  • E. Emiel van Loon,
  • Johannes Foufopoulos
Samual Kalb
University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability
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Kenneth Rijsdijk
University of Amsterdam

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Johannes De Groeve
University of Amsterdam
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Lieve Denkers
Utrecht University Faculty of Science
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E. Emiel van Loon
Unversiteit van Amsterdam
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Johannes Foufopoulos
University of Michigan
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We assess how reptile population extinctions on Mediterranean islands has been influenced since the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) by the interacting effects of island area, timing of fragmentation, changing climate, and topography. By using geophysical models of sea-level rise we produce island-fragmentation cladograms which depict the sequence and timing by which 80 islands and 52 paleo-islands in the Aegean and Ionian seas progressively became separated from paleo-landmasses. These cladograms are used to reconstruct the progressive sequence of local reptile population extinctions. We found that population extinctions rise linearly with increased duration of isolation and that extinctions correlate negatively with (paleo-) island area. In addition, extinctions are positively associated with higher summer temperatures implicating heat stress, as well as with higher island topographic roughness, which may be an indication of diminished resource availability. These conclusions point forward to understanding, predicting, and eventually preventing future species extinctions due to climatic change.