Climate change could pose a threat to male fertility – according to new research from the University of East Anglia.
New findings published today in the journal Nature Communications reveal that heatwaves damage sperm in insects – with negative impacts for fertility across generations. The research team say that male infertility during heatwaves could help to explain why climate change is having such an impact on species populations, including climate-related extinctions in recent years.
Research group leader Prof Matt Gage, from UEA’s School of Biological Sciences, said: “We know that biodiversity is suffering under climate change, but the specific causes and sensitivities are hard to pin down.
“We’ve shown in this work that sperm function is an especially sensitive trait when the environment heats up, and in a model system representing a huge amount of global biodiversity. Since sperm function is essential for reproduction and population viability, these findings could provide one explanation for why biodiversity is suffering under climate change. A warmer atmosphere will be more volatile and hazardous, with extreme events like heatwaves becoming increasingly frequent, intense and widespread."
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