"Small lizards more likely to survive hurricanes"
27 July 2018
Anthony Herrel (UAntwerp) studied a population of lizards before and after the passage of two hurricanes.
Hurricanes typically leave death and destruction in their wake. However, research by UAntwerp and other institutes now shows that animals with specific morphological traits are more likely to survive the storm. "We focused on lizards in the Lesser Antilles," says Anthony Herrel. "The animals that survived were smaller and had longer front legs and shorter hind legs."
A hurricane often has catastrophic consequences for both inhabitants and ecosystems in the local area. Scientists have known for some time that hurricanes lead to increased mortality in animals, but it remained unclear whether this weather phenomenon exerts selection pressure on populations. In other words: do animals survive at random, or are there certain morphological factors at play?