October 1, 2013 at 5:57 pm #600MikeKeymaster
Amphibians in jeopardy worldwide, report says
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Eye of newt and toe of frog may one day be gone from witches grog.
Indeed, not just frogs and newts but amphibians in general are
rapidly becoming threatened worldwide, a new study shows.
And while few would miss the evil broth concocted by the witches in
Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” the rapid decline of animals like toads and
salamanders is raising concerns as it worsens, a team of researchers
“What we’re seeing here is completely unprecedented declines and
extinctions,” said Simon N. Stuart of the World Conservation Union,
lead researcher on the study.
These declines are “outside our normal experience,” Stuart said in a
There are a variety of reasons for some losses, while others remain
a mystery, the group reports in a paper being published online by
the journal Science.
Amphibians have porous skins and narrow environmental requirements,
and their decline may indicate that something sinister is under way
in the environment, Stuart said.
“Where amphibians proceed, others may follow, possibly us also,” he
The researchers reported that 1,856 species, 32.5 percent of the
known amphibian species, are “globally threatened,” meaning they
fall into the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s
categories of vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered.
Twelve percent of bird species and 23 percent of mammal species are
435 species in rapid decline
The researchers reported 435 amphibian species are in rapid decline,
at least nine species have gone extinct since 1980 and another 113
have not been reported from the wild in recent years and are
considered to be possibly extinct.
Their findings, called the Global Amphibian Assessment, were
compiled by more than 500 scientists in 60 countries.
“All in all, amphibians are certainly in deep trouble in many areas,
for a whole suite of reasons,” said Ross A. Alford, a professor of
tropical biology at James Cook University in Australia.
Alford, who was not a co-author of the report, said via e-mail that
the study “has done a good job of documenting (the decline), and
also of pointing out how much more we need to know to really
understand the scale of the problem and begin to attempt to solve
Indeed, he added, the report may even understate the problem due to
the patchiness of knowledge of amphibians.
Trevor Beebee of the University of Sussex in England added that
amphibians may be a type of warning.
“In my view, this assessment of amphibian declines is very
important, because it quantifies an extremely worrying set of
observations,” Beebee said via e-mail. “Amphibians are declining in
many places all over the world, often in areas where we might expect
human effects to be minimal.”
The new paper concludes that while exploitation and loss of habitat
are factors in some losses, other declines remain enigmatic,
occurring for unknown reasons.
A major concern, the researchers say, are the enigmatic declines and
disappearances in North and South America, Puerto Rico and
“Such declines have taken place even within well-protected areas,
such as Yosemite National Park (California), Monteverde Cloud Forest
Preserve (Costa Rica) and Eungella National Park (Australia),” the
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