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News > Latin America

Venezuela's Frogs and Toads Hard Hit by Climate Change

  • A poison dart frog at a laboratory in Caracas, Venezuela.

    A poison dart frog at a laboratory in Caracas, Venezuela. | Photo: Reuters

Published 16 December 2015

Venezuela’s toads and frogs put it among the world's top 10 countries for amphibians, thanks to its diverse rainforest, mountain, and coastal habitats.

Venezuelan amphibians are particularly threatened by climate change, as rising temperatures could make it impossible for frog and toad species to reproduce while diseases become more common, scientists say.

Many frogs and toads are inching closer to extinction and more species become endangered in Latin America, while on a global scale scientists predict rising temperatures and worsening climate change will threaten wildlife in diverse habitats around the world.

And it’s not just a risk to the animal kingdom. According to scientists, the delicate species are also beneficial to humans.

An emerald-eyed tree frog in Caracas, Venezuela. I Photo: Reuters

Venezuela’s toad and frog population puts it among the top 10 countries in the world for amphibians, thanks to its diverse habitats including rainforest, mountains, and coastline. Nearly 20 frog and toad species are already on Venezuela’s list of endangered species and face imminent danger with climate change.

But scientists in Caracas are working to protect these fragile lifelines, and have already set up a laboratory to simulate the ideal natural reproductive environment for endangered frogs and toads.

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Researchers are studying the endangered species, increasingly under threat over the past two decades, in an attempt to better understand and be able to stimulate the population.

As temperatures rise, frog and toad eggs are at risk of drying up and dying, while the spread of funguses is more likely.

At COP21 in Paris, world leaders agreed to limit global warming to a maximum 2 degrees Celsius temperature rise, while aiming for the more ambitious 1.5 degrees Celsius. But voluntary national emissions reductions targets currently put the world on track for about 3 degrees Celsius global warming, which would be catastrophic for ecosystems and human societies.

A horned frog at a laboratory in Caracas, Venezuela. I Photo: Reuters

Many amphibians species are already suffering at current levels of global warming.

After amphibians, mammals are most threatened in Venezuela as a result of habitat destruction and human consumption, scientists say.

Mexico was the first country in Latin America to begin to suffer declining amphibian populations. Countries including Costa Rica and Ecuador have also launched conservation efforts.

Scientists say that declines of frogs and toads are simply initial warning signs of further biological damage to come as climate change continues to worsen.

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