Lack of information may slow conservation response to amphibian crisis
December 1, 2008
The Neotropics harbor between 30-50% of the world’s reptiles and amphibians, but dramatic declines in both groups have been observed over recent decades. While a number of factors have been cited, many of the causes of reptile and amphibian declines are still poorly understood. The situation is paralleled by a lack of information of the natural history, ecology, and behavior of many species.
Writing in the December issue of Tropical Conservation Science, Nicolás Urbina-Cardona of UNAM (Mexico) and Conservation International – Colombia argues that overcoming this dearth of information is critical to conserving Neotropical reptiles and amphibians.
"To take action for
herpetofaunal conservation it is necessary to initiate and maintain homogeneous and stable
nomenclature to avoid species richness overestimation and to be able to generate
appropriate legislation for conservation," he writes. "It is necessary to quantify viable population sizes,
phylogenetic patterns, home ranges, geographical distributions and population structure of
endemics, rare, and disturbance-sensitive species."
Upon identifying what species are endangered, Urbina-Cardona says that scientists need to "establish priorities to evaluate whether current
protected areas include those species’ distributions, and whether deforestation is the principle driver of habitat loss."
He adds that local involvement in the establishing of protected areas will be key to the process.
"These selection criteria should be complemented with social
participation, including decision makers who promote and understand socioeconomic, ethic,
and budget related issues so that conservation areas can be possible at a local level"
Urbina-Cardona, J. N. 2008. Conservation of neotropical herpetofauna: research trends and challenges. Tropical Conservation Science Vol.1 (4):359-375.