How to save disappearing amphibians subject of meeting this weekend
Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com
September 14, 2005
Scientists are meeting this weekend to discuss strategies for addressing the global decline of amphibians. Earlier this year, the Global Amphibian Assessment, a survey of the planet's amphibian species, found that nearly a third (32%) of the world's amphibian species are threatened and 129 species have gone extinct since 1980.
Claude Gascon, the chair of IUCN's amphibian group, told BBC News, "The smoking gun in all this is the fungus. We have some idea what it's doing, but we don't know where it's coming from and how it's being moved around, and there is no way of controlling it in the wild. That leaves us with few options but to go and rescue some populations at risk from disease, and then re-introduce them in the wild when we've cleaned up or found ways of allowing them to live in the wild with the fungus."
Among the species to disappear is Costa Rica's Golden toad (Bufo periglenes) and the Gastric Brooding Frog (Rheobatrachus silus) of Queensland, Australia. Habitat loss and pollution are also considered major threats to global amphibian populations.
Ecologists fear that the global decline of amphibians may have broader implications for the world's environment. Because amphibians have highly permeable skin and spend a portion of their life in water and on land, they are sensitive to environmental change and can act as the proverbial "canary in a coal mine," indicating the relative health of an ecosystem. As they die, scientists are left wondering what plant or animal group is next.
Time is running out for the world's amphibians; scientists are trying to act before it is too late. The longer the delay, the higher the cost of inaction.
This article used a quote from BBC News.