The amphibians are the most threatened class of vertebrates. 32.4% of species are threatened or extinct, not including data deficient species which account for 24.5% of amphibians and of which many are likely to be in decline. The latest global amphibian assessment indicated that 42.5% of amphibian species were undergoing population declines, while just 0.5% of species had growing populations. The scale and speed of the declines that amphibians are experiencing, combined with their importance as indicators of environmental stressors, and providers of environmental services such as pest control, make working towards the understanding of the problems they are facing all the more crucial (1).
Habitat loss, disease, invasive species, and climate and environmental change are among the drivers of the current amphibian declines – although some populations are declining for unknown reasons. Although habitat loss affects the highest number of amphibian species, for susceptible populations diseases can cause sudden and large declines, making very rapid extinction a possibility whereas habitat loss tends to cause populations to decline at slower rates. The scale and trans-boundary nature of the threats to amphibians mean that traditional conservation of setting up reserves and protected areas will not be sufficient on it’s own. To address the amphibian declines a truly multi-disciplinary approach is needed, with input from many areas of scientific research, conservation, public engagement and participation and from policy-makers.
1) Hussain, Q. A., Pandit, A. K., Global amphibian declines: a review International Journal of Biodiversity and Conservation 4: 348 – 357