Reptile Conservation Across the Country


Reptile conservation has long been overlooked, even though many species are in danger. The first global assessment of reptiles’ extinction risk shows that they face threats similar in geographic scope, taxonomic breadth and severity to those experienced by amphibians and mammals1.


Protecting habitat represents one primary goal of reptilian conservation. These efforts can involve preserving natural areas or working with private land owners to preserve their properties.


Reptile conservation is challenged by the same threats that affect all tetrapods: habitat loss, fragmentation, agricultural development, habitat destruction, pathogens, invasive species, genetic erosion and climate change. However, because of the differences between reptiles and other tetrapods, the way that those threats are tackled needs to be tailored for them.

Reptilian conservationists need to focus on preserving or restoring intact habitats for breeding, foraging, overwintering, anti-predation and basking, as well as facilitating movement between these habitats. This can be achieved by extending riparian corridors, for example, between aquatic breeding and foraging areas or between upland and terrestrial nesting sites. Corridors between overwintering hibernacula and breeding habitats may also be needed, particularly in arid regions.

Despite these challenges, the researchers found that reptile conservation efforts can be targeted broadly because geographical prioritizations previously identified for birds, mammals and amphibians overlap with those for most reptiles, except for range-restricted species (known as microendemics). And although halting unsustainable harvest, controlling trade and eradicating invasive species are crucial, conservation investments directed at unique and specialized reptiles will probably benefit many more of the 1,829 threatened species.

Moreover, the study showed that many of those species are concentrated in regions where other tetrapod classes (birds, mammals and amphibians) are also at risk. In fact, only in parts of southern Asia and the northeastern United States are reptiles disproportionately threatened compared with other tetrapods.

Conservation efforts

파충류샵 Across the country, conservation organizations are focusing on protecting reptile habitat and species. Whether it’s helping sea turtles get to the ocean and lay their eggs or saving endangered reptiles from invasive predators, these efforts are important to help ensure reptile populations can recover and continue to provide critical ecosystem services.

But many reptile species are in trouble, according to a study published in Nature. The world’s most comprehensive extinction risk assessment to date found that 21% of all reptiles are threatened with extinction.

This study found that the broad geographic and anthropogenic threat patterns across reptile classes (Testudines, Crocodylia and Squamata) have not yet been fully reflected in global conservation prioritization analyses. These assessments are carried out by regional workshops and IUCN SSC Specialist Groups for specific taxa, introducing both geographical and taxonomic bias into the process.

The study also found that conservation actions taken to protect endangered birds, mammals and amphibians are likely to co-benefit reptiles. This finding is encouraging, as it suggests that conservation actions targeted to other tetrapods may be able to be scaled up to include reptiles, providing a new avenue to advance their recovery. But the work is far from over. Reptiles are under increasing pressure from climate change, habitat loss and fragmentation, and invasive species. Many more conservation actions are needed to prevent the extinction of these critically important species.

Human interactions

Public access to wild animals often benefits biodiversity, but it also carries the risk that amphibians and reptiles may be harmed by people, either intentionally or inadvertently. For example, one study found that the intensive public use of a site for adder in Britain caused population declines, and other research shows that even relatively benign activities such as recreation can disrupt reptiles’ habitats.

Moreover, human-herpetofaunal interactions are typically shaped by socioeconomic divisions as well as geographic ones. In urban areas, for instance, higher-income communities tend to support more biodiversity (Schell et al., 2020) – including more plants, birds, and insects – than lower-income communities. This is partly due to the greater availability of resources for wildlife, but it also reflects differences in attitudes and values towards nature-based activities.

Given these challenges, amphibian and reptile conservation depends on building and nurturing relationships between people and herpetofaunal species. Networking and bringing together a range of societal sectors with herpetofaunal interests (including local communities, people in defined geographies and jurisdictions, and herpetological societies and associations) can help to counter the lack of social capital for these species, as illustrated by the relatively low level of interest in herpetofaunal conservation compared with that of other vertebrate groups such as birds, mammals, and economically important fish. PARC’s past year-long international celebrations, such as Year of the Snake and Year of the Lizard, have shown that a focused approach can make a difference.

Species recovery

While conservation groups aim to protect or restore the habitat of individual reptile species, they also typically seek ways in which these efforts can help other reptiles. They might work to educate the public, dispel myths (such as that crocodiles and alligators are dangerous), or encourage people to support preservation of natural habitats. They might also partner with land owners to work on habitat protection.

One of the major challenges to reptile conservation is that they have not yet had comprehensive extinction-risk assessments carried out, although this is in progress. As a result, they have been poorly understood and are generally overlooked in conservation planning. This is a significant gap in comparison to birds, mammals and amphibians.

Nevertheless, a recent study in Nature suggests that reptiles share many of the same threats as other tetrapods. The results suggest that efforts to conserve other threatened tetrapods – including land use planning, control of trade and invasive species, and habitat preservation – will probably co-benefit many reptiles.

These efforts will likely be crucial to the survival of a number of threatened and endangered reptile species. Especially for those reptiles that are dependent on natural water sources, such as freshwater turtles and aquatic frogs, restoring natural water flow will be essential to maintain their populations. This could include dam removal and river restoration, or reducing water pollution by controlling agricultural or energy development.