Amphibian extinction crisis requires unprecedented conservation response say leading scientists
July 6, 2006
The world's leading amphibian experts are calling for dramatic steps, including the formation of an Amphibian Survival Alliance (ASA), to prevent the massive extinction of amphibians worldwide.
"Stopping further global losses of amphibian populations and species requires an unprecedented conservation response," write the 50 scientists who co-wrote the Science paper.
The proposed alliance has an initial five-year budget goal of $400 million and calls for the implementation of the Amphibian Conservation Action Plan which was created at the Amphibian Conservation Summit in 2005.
"Amphibians are facing a dire global extinction crisis that crystallizes the impact that humans are having on the entire natural world," said Claude Gascon, co-author of the paper, senior vice president with Conservation International (CI), and co-chair of the Amphibian Specialist Group. "The strategy in this paper lays a clear path towards addressing this catastrophe. If we are not successful in this battle, we will end up losing more than just amphibians."
Scientists say amphibians -- cold-blooded animals that include frogs, toads, salamanders, newts and caecilians -- are under grave threat due to climate change, pollution, and the emergence of a deadly and infectious fungal disease, which has been linked to global warming. According to the Global Amphibian Assessment, a comprehensive status assessment of the world's amphibian species, one-third of the world's 5,918 known amphibian species are classified as threatened with extinction. Further, at least 9, and perhaps 122, have gone extinct since 1980.
Monkey frog in Peru. Photo by Rhett A. Butler
The scientists say that the fungal disease, called chytridiomycosis, "is the worst infectious disease ever recorded among vertebrates in terms of number of species impacted and threat of extinction." According to the paper, within 4 to 6 months of the arrival of the disease at a site where the it has not previously been present, 50% of amphibian species and 80% of individuals may disappear.
"The catastrophic decline and extinction of amphibians is on a scale quite unlike anything we have ever witnessed before," said Simon Stuart, co-author of the paper and senior director of the IUCN/CI Biodiversity Assessment Unit. "More amphibian species are declining more rapidly, over a wider geographic scale than is the case for any other group of species. With amphibians, the extinction crisis is no longer theoretical. It's in our face."
Climate change is killing frogs finds new research
The dramatic global decline of amphibians may be directly connected to global warming warns a new study published in the journal Nature. Looking at a group of frogs found in biodiversity hotspots in Central and South America, scientists found links between higher temperatures and frog extinctions caused by a skin fungus. The infectious skin disease—a type of chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis)—is now found in frog populations around the world and is the main suspect in the rapid disappearance of amphibians.
Conservation scientists want $404 million to save disappearing amphibians
Conservation scientists proposed a $404 million effort to preserve declining global amphibian populations. The strategy would call for funding from governments, private institutions and individual donors to finance long-term research, protect critical habitats, reduce the trade in amphibians for food and pets, and establish captive breeding programs.
Toad on brink of extinction, scientists race to study amphibian for bioactive compounds
Under the bright florescent lights of the reptile house in the Bronx Zoo of New York, a colorful exotic toad makes its final stand. Once gathering by the thousands at the waterfalls of the Kihansi Gorge of Tanzania, the population of the Kihansi Spray Toad now stands at less than 200 individuals. The hasty construction of a desperately needed dam, built with good intentions by the World Bank, has relegated this species to the edge of existence. A decade ago the Kihansi Spray Toad thrived in its thoroughly unique habitat, the waterfalls of the Kihansi River, part of ecosystem that is one of only 25 Global Biodiversity Hotspots on the planet (Hotspots are regions noted for their extensive range of species in a very small area). The gorge is located in the Southern Udzungwa Mountains of South Central Tanzania, which possess the greatest biodiversity in all of Tanzania.
This article used quotes and information from a Conservation International news release and previous mongabay.com news articles.
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