Triple threat paints grim future for frogs

Date:

Share post:

Frogs, salamanders and other amphibians may eventually have no safe haven left on the globe because of a triple threat of worsening scourges, a new study predicts. 

This undated handout photo provided by Christian Hof shows a marked Silverstoneia flotator. This species is currently not listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, because it is very common across its distribution which is located in Central America (mainly Costa Rica and Panama). However, according to our analyses the area where it occurs may become strongly affected by several of the major factors threatening amphibians, namely land-use change and the fungal disease chytridiomycosis. Frogs, salamanders and other amphibians have no safe haven left on the globe because of a triple threat of worsening scourges a new study predicts [Credit: AP Photo/Christian Hof]

Scientists have long known that amphibians are under attack from a killer fungus, climate change and shrinking habitat. In the study appearing online Wednesday in the journal Nature, computer models project that in about 70 years those three threats will spread, leaving no part of the world immune from one of the problems. 

Frogs seem to have the most worrisome outlook, said study lead author Christian Hof of the Biodiversity and Climate Research Center in Frankfurt. 

Meanwhile, federal scientists in the United States are meeting in St. Louis this week to monitor the situation and figure out how to reverse it. 

Several important U.S. amphibian species – boreal toads in the Rocky Mountains and the mountain yellow legged frog in the Sierra Nevada Mountains – are shrinking in numbers, said zoologist Steve Corn, who is part of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative. The western U.S. has the problem worse than the East. 

About one-third of the world’s amphibian species are known to be threatened with extinction, and 159 species already have disappeared, a 2008 international study found. 

“It’s no fun being a frog,” said prominent biodiversity conservationist Stuart Pimm of Duke University, who wasn’t part of Hof’s study or the USGS effort. “They are getting it from all three different factors.” 

Hof’s study was the first to look at projections of the three threats by geography and see if they overlap. While they overlap some, it’s not nearly as much as expected. The wide distribution of threats leaves no refuge for amphibians. 

The strongest threats seem to be where the most species of amphibians live, concentrating the potential loss of diversity, said Hof and Ross Alford, an amphibian expert at James Cook University in Australia, who wasn’t part of the research. 

The biggest threats are seen, mostly from climate change, to frogs and other amphibians in tropical Africa, northern South American and the Andes Mountains, areas which Hof calls “climate losers.” In the northern Andes, which have the most number of frog species in the world, more than 160 frog species are at risk, he said. 

Alford and other outside scientists said they thought Hof’s work might be overly pessimistic. But studying the geographic distribution of amphibian threats in the future is important, they said. 

Author: Seth Borenstein | Source: Associated Press [November 16, 2011]

ADVERTISEMENT

spot_img

Related articles

How well do you know your friends?

How does your best friend feel when people act needy? Or, about people being dishonest? What do they...

TN cave, rock art offers prehistoric perspectives

There are more than 100 caves and rock sites in Tennessee that reveal forms of prehistoric art, and...

A radiating beauty on Mars

Exceptional structures deposited and shaped by water and winds adorn these interlocking craters and sculpt radiating patterns in...

Entomologists launch the 5,000 Insect Genome Project

It’s been called “the Manhattan Project of Entomology,” an undertaking that has the potential to revolutionize the way...

Cannibalism among late Neanderthals in northern Europe

Tübingen researchers in international team uncover grisly evidence that Neanderthals butchered their own kind some 40,000 years ago. These...

Bullying black holes force galaxies to stay red and dead

Astronomers have used the Herschel Space Observatory to discover massive elliptical galaxies in the nearby Universe containing plenty...

3,000 year old Tohoku pottery shard uncovered in Okinawa

A fragment of pottery common in northeastern Japan 3,000 years ago was found on Okinawa Prefecture, showing that...

Ancient adze a mystery

The significance of a Maori adze unearthed in Paremata is still unknown. Archaeologist Pam Chester discovered the adze...