Nearly a third of all amphibian species are teetering on the brink of extinction!

 

 

Ever wonder which animal family is in the greatest danger of dying out? Of the 6,296 amphibian species globally, 1,898 (about30%) have been deemed by scientists to be at risk of extinction. Amphibians are undoubtedly the most endangered group of animals on the planet.

 

 

The following is a list of 6 major factors contributing to the demise of our semi-terrestrial, skin-breathing friends:

 

 

Habitat Destruction-humans have altered one half to one third of the Earth’s land surface with agriculture, mining, construction, roads, etc.

 

Pollution- acid rain, heavy metals, herbicides and pesticides (chemicals used in agriculture cause sterility or even chemical castration of amphibians and other species)

 

Climate Change- global warming wreaks havoc with amphibian breeding and hibernation cycles. Rising sea levels inundating coastal wetlands. More frequent and intense droughts lowering pond water levels exposing embryos to more UV light and increased susceptibility to fungal attacks.

 

Predators and Disease- predation by invasive species like “mosquito fish” and increased mammalian predators like rats and weasels due to shrinking habitats. Bacterial, viral and fungal disease outbreaks exacerbated by pollution and climate change.

 

Overexploitation- a vicious cycle, over-harvesting of frogs as a food source (the US alone imports about 26 million frogs per year) leads to insect populations breeding out of control and increased pesticide use which in turn damages delicate ecosystems and destroys amphibian habitats.

 

The Pet Business- animals poached in the wild for pets are kept in stressful conditions prior to and during shipping, resulting in a high mortality rate. In another vicious cycle…. as some species become rarer, their value increases. The more valuable, the more profitable and consequently the more sought after. As rarer species are increasingly harvested they end up on the endangered list and become even more desirable to fanatical collectors, hence more profitable for poachers.

 

Why should we care?

 

Frogs and other amphibians are major insect predators and play a critical role in the food chain. Without them, insects would multiply uncontrollably and cause crop damage as well as a resurgence of insect borne diseases like malaria and encephalitis. Amphibians covered with semi-permeable skin are especially vulnerable to pollution and other environmental stressors. We should consider them “environmental sentinels” since their health and wellbeing, or lack thereof is like an early warning system against potential environmental threats. These “biomonitors” give us a window to the state of our environment and a way to recognize and potentially reverse or reduce catastrophic assaults upon nature resulting from the carelessness, apathy and greed of humans.

 

 

Published by Bill Hoover