Climate change could be a greater threat to tropical frogs than deforestation


Share post:

Changes in climate and land use are expected to reduce the livable area for tropical frogs because these species will increasingly encounter temperatures hot enough to harm their behavior, reproduction and physiology. Climate change, however, may be the most destructive force, according to a recent study involving a researcher from UC Berkeley.

Climate change could be a greater threat to tropical frogs than deforestation
Parachuting Red-Eyed Leaf Frog (Agalychnis saltator) [Credit: University of California – Berkeley]

The researchers found that declines in frogs’ thermally suitable habitat area from climate change alone could be up to 4.5 times greater than declines attributable to land-cover change only, such as converting a forest to agriculture. Unlike humans, frogs rely on external sources to regulate their body temperature, so habitats in which frogs are unable to keep their body temperature below their maximum temperature limit are unlikely to support frog populations.

For the study, UC Berkeley Ph.D. student David Kurz traveled to Costa Rica and conducted frog surveys in three land-cover types: forest fragments, heart of palm plantations and pasture. After 400 surveys, Kurz and lead author Justin Nowakowski, a postdoctoral researcher at UC Davis, identified frog species restricted to forest as well as species that were able to survive in the agricultural areas.

Climate change could be a greater threat to tropical frogs than deforestation
Pygmy Rain Frog (Pristimantis ridens) [Credit: University of California – Berkeley]

From this data set and data on frog thermal tolerances, the research team, including scientists from John Carroll University, Zoo Miami and Florida International University, modeled the shifting thermal landscapes of frogs to determine how much suitable habitat area would remain 80 years into the future for frogs with different thermal tolerances under a variety of land-use and climate scenarios.

“Our field data and subsequent modeling show that frogs that are better able to withstand rising temperatures have a better chance of survival in a rapidly changing world,” Kurz said.

The researchers found that frog species living exclusively in forests were most sensitive to the high temperatures that come from the combination of climate change and forest conversion.

Author: Brett Israel | Source: University of California – Berkeley [October 10, 2016]



Related articles

Messier 61 looks straight into Hubble’s camera

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has captured a new image of nearby spiral galaxy Messier 61, also known...

Recent connection between North and South America reaffirmed

Long ago, one great ocean flowed between North and South America. When the narrow Isthmus of Panama joined...

Bright radio bursts probe universe’s hidden matter

Fast radio bursts, or FRBs, are mysterious flashes of radio waves originating outside our Milky Way galaxy. A...

Researchers solve space riddle of planetary rings

In a breakthrough study, an international team of scientists, including Professor Nikolai Brilliantov from the University of Leicester,...

Milky Way amidst a ‘Council of Giants’

We live in a galaxy known as the Milky Way -- a vast conglomeration of 300 billion stars,...

Silver disc reveals Christian worship in Late Roman Norfolk

A small Roman silver disc, thought to have been part of a signet ring, has revealed evidence of...

Research shows temperature, not snowfall, driving tropical glacier size

Temperature, not snowfall, has been driving the fluctuating size of Peru's Quelccaya Ice Cap, whose dramatic shrinkage in...

Hindu temple stormed in Peshawar

Unidentified men stormed a Hindu temple in Peshawar Sunday evening, police said. The attackers burnt images inside the...