Global Frog Population Faces Extinction

January 12, 2008 02:24 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
A non-profit coalition of conservationists launches the "2008 Year of the Frog" campaign, trying to raise awareness of the crisis facing the world's frogs. There are theories, but scientists are still unsure why the frogs are dying.

30-Second Summary

According to the conservation group Amphibian Ark, nearly one third of all amphibian species are endangered.

“This represents the greatest species conservation challenge in the history of humanity,” the group states on its Web site.

Conservationists are appealing to governments, corporations and the public in an effort to save the endangered amphibians.

Jeffrey P. Bonner, chairman of Amphibian Ark and CEO of the St. Louis Zoo, told Britain’s Daily Telegraph that amphibians "play an important role in the food web as both predator and prey, eating insects, which benefits agriculture and minimizes disease spread."

“Their skin also has substances that protect them from some microbes and viruses, offering promising medical cures for a variety of human diseases,” Bonner said.

But why are amphibians disappearing? Experts have come up with several explanations.

One theory posits that the parasitic fungus "amphibian chytrid" is responsible. Highly fatal, the fungus can kill up to 80 percent of infected amphibians within a matter of months.

Conversely, Florida International University’s lead biologist, Steven Whitfield, attributes the decline in amphibian populations in the Southeastern United States to the effects of climate change.

Frogs and other amphibians rely on the cover of leaf litter for survival.

However, Whitfield told Scientific American that the “climate here is getting warmer and more consistently wet. This may impact leaf litter by increasing rates of decomposition or decreasing rates of litter fall.”

Regardless of the cause, it is clear that the number of amphibians in the world is diminishing.

In 2006, the Global Amphibian Assessment (GAA) found that of amphibian species threatened there are 9 critically endangered, 17 endangered, 12 vulnerable and 5 near threatened.

Headline links: Year of the frog

Background: Frog-killers and a potential fungus vaccine

A possible solution

Reference: Amphibian Ark, Save the Frog and the Global Amphibian Assessment

Related links: George Orwell’s ‘Some Thoughts on the Common Toad’


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