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Extinction threat for amphibians around the world

By Dave Collier - 17 Nov 2011 23:25:0 GMT
Extinction threat for amphibians around the world

Red-eyed Tree Frog via Shutterstock

In 1993 a mysterious illness was discovered, which was wiping out populations of frogs in Queensland Australia. Despite later research showing that it had existed in Australia for decades it was unnamed until that year. The disease was chytridiomycosis and it is a deadly enemy for amphibians around the world. A fungal infection which initially affects the skin, it progresses and the animal suffers behavioural changes with the possibility of death.

Chytridiomycosis is, unfortunately, only one challenge that the world's amphibians have to face. With climate change and land-use changes, the number of threatened amphibious species is growing. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature has 30% of amphibious species listed as threatened and research published by researchers from the University of Copenhagen, Yale University, and the Spanish Research Council supports this figure.

The research assessed the health of amphibians around the world and attempted to identify risks. They noted that habitat changes caused by climate or land-use changes were a serious threat and both causes were often overlapping and exacerbating the difficulties that local species might encounter.

Fungal infection caused by Cytridiomycosis was also listed as a major factor but one that tended to affect animals not hit by habitat change. This leads to the situation that there are few safe places in the world for them to live in peace. As Miguel Araujo from the Spanish Research Council noted, "Our study shows that more than two thirds of the global amphibian diversity hotspots will likely be strongly affected by at least one of the three threats considered."

Their study didn't end with positive conclusions. When considering the overwhelming dangers to their survival, the researchers concluded that things were going to get worse. Carsten Rahbek from the University of Copenhagen wanted to point out that many amphibians had been wiped out by single cause events but that multiple cause threats are likely to hit amphibian populations in the future.

The study underlines the need for further research and proactive conservation efforts to avoid extinction for many of the worlds amphibians.

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Topics: Frogs / Endangered Species / Amphibians