Amphibians are without a doubt the most endangered group of animals on the planet: nearly 1/3 of the world's 6,485 species are on the brink of extinction. There are six major factors negatively affecting amphibians, and all are due to human activity: habitat destruction, infectious diseases, pollution & pesticides, climate change, invasive species, and over-harvesting for the pet and food trades.
To make matters worse, many of these threats act in concert with one another to create synergistic (magnified) effects. For instance, perhaps exposure to either a particular pesticide or pathogen would not kill affected frogs. However, if the frogs became infected by the chytrid fungus after a pesticide had compromised their ability to mount a sufficient immune response, the population may experience a lethal disease outbreak, and be driven to local extinction. If a significant portion of the species' remaining habitat had already been logged, invaded by introduced species, or had become unusable due to altered rainfall patterns, the species could be on a rapid path toward global extinction.
Unfortunately, though national parks and preserves are an integral part of conserving amphibian populations, they are no longer sufficient in and of themselves, as airborne pollutants, climate change and infectious diseases can easily cross any boundaries.
A significant amount of effort will be required to alleviate the current threats to amphibians. This will require scientists, lawyers, educators, media, and an informed public that votes for and supports politicians and businesses who are committed to the environment.
Read this report Water Woes 2012, which features a section we wrote about the plight of the Mountain-Yellow Legged Frogs.
Art showing the threats to frogs, by Meiral.
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