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Climate Change is Major Driver of Amphibian Declines

  • An indigo bush frog.

    An indigo bush frog. | Photo: X/ @CarissaCWWong

Published 5 October 2023

At least 37 amphibian species have become extinct since 1980, with disease and habitat loss being the main culprits.

A study published in Nature on Wednesday shows that amphibians are in trouble and urgently require joint conservation actions by humans.


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A research team, led by Jennifer Luedtke Swandby from Re:wild, an organization in Texas focusing on protecting some of the world's rarest and most threatened species, conducted research on the world's amphibian populations for about 20 years.

The team, composed of hundreds of experts from universities, scientific research institutions or government departments, in more than 60 countries around the world, assessed the status of 8,011 amphibian species tracked by the Red List of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Nearly 41 percent of listed amphibian species are close to extinction, which makes them the most endangered vertebrates on Earth. At least 37 amphibian species have become extinct since 1980, with disease and habitat loss being the main culprits.

Ongoing and projected climate change effects are now of increasing concern, driving 39 percent of status deteriorations since 2004, followed by habitat loss, the study suggests.

Scientists warn that climate change is quickly becoming the major threat, as it may exuberate other threatening factors, such as habitat loss, drought or fire, and emerging diseases

Alessandro Catenazzi, a biologist at Florida International University and one of the lead researchers, said that salamander populations are experiencing their greatest declines throughout the Neotropics -- extending from South Florida and Caribbean islands to Central and South America.

"Global emerging diseases increasingly threaten biodiversity worldwide, and amphibians are one of the most dramatic examples of species extinctions caused by disease," he said.

The Global Amphibian Assessment aims to prevent species extinction and provides a scientific basis for conservation action.

The current assessment focuses on the ecological requirements, population trends, distribution boundaries and major threats of global amphibians.

There are now 8,615 known amphibian species worldwide, 8,011 of which are listed on the IUCN Red List, which is a comprehensive source of information on the conservation status of animals, fungi and plants worldwide.

While the number of threatened and extinct species is increasing, scientists hope this latest research will inspire governments and conservation agencies to significantly increase investment and political will in the world's wildlife conservation efforts.

Mandatory habitat protection for certain species could improve their survival in areas where agriculture, timber, plant harvesting and infrastructure development continue.

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