Global Amphibian Die Off

According to Scientific American, Amphibians Are Dying Off At An Alarming Rate

Earthquakes return to Arkansas 2013

Future campers will only hear the croaking of frogs on their “extinct species” app

A U.S.Geological Survey Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative study conducted over the last decade has nothing but bad news for frogs, salamanders, toads, newts and other members of the biological class Amphibia. Released in May 2013, the study examined population trends for 48 amphibian species. The trend was down in every case, with some species in danger of complete elimination within 20 years*. The study noted an annual population shrinkage of 3.7 percent per year, which does not necessarily mean Amphibians have got another 25 years or so before we see the last of them. The most threatened species on the Red List of endangered species were declining at an average rate of 11.6 percent.

Scientists have known for over a decade that amphibians are declining globally; they are by far the most threatened class of animals. Several amphibian species have already disappeared from the planet. The drop off is attributed to the usual causes, all anthropogenic to one degree or another: habitat loss, pollution, drought, global warming and new diseases. Among the latter is a particularly deadly fungus known as Bd, which is wiping out at least 20 amphibian species around the world.

Other events are wiping out local populations under the radar. In Texas wildfires have reduced the last of the endangered Houston toad (Bufo houstonensis), to below sustainable levels. The species has been dropping for decades as urban growth wiped out their habitat. Bastrop State Park was the last of the genetically viable populations left, and it was 98% burned down in the 2012 wildfires.

Apart from the cuteness factor that seems to go with the whole frog thing (forgetting they are carnivores, and as nasty as any other species for their relative size, amphibians and their demise have something unsettling to share with humans. Amphibians are an integral part of the ecosystem. They are not little guys who only live in ponds.

These green critters have been on the planet for about 350 million years, far far longer than humans. If something on the planet has changed enough to threaten to wipe out the entire species within the next couple of decades, perhaps other species should be worried as well.

Well, are you worried?

*If you’re like most people, you don’t really react to these kinds of predictions because you figure there must be someone in charge of these things.

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