Amphibian Crisis: 41% of Species Deemed Threatened with Extinction

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Amphibian Crisis: 41% of Species Deemed Threatened with Extinction

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Scientific Accuracy 0.9

The article accurately reflects the current scientific understanding of the threats faced by amphibians due to habitat destruction, disease, and climate change. However, the specific percentages of threatened species may vary slightly depending on the source.

Aritcle Tone 0.6

The tone of the article is mixed, highlighting the dire situation of amphibians but also emphasizing the need for global action to protect and recover them.

6 Topics

Amphibians, habitat destruction, disease, climate change, extinction, conservation.

Article Body

Reuters 17:03 JST, October 12, 2023 WASHINGTON (Reuters) Earths amphibians from the thorny spike-thumb frog to the red knobby newt, West African giant squeaker, ornate tree frog and fire salamander are being pushed closer to the brink due to habitat destruction, disease and climate change, with 41% of species now threatened with extinction. Those are the findings of a new global assessment unveiled by conservationists on Oct. 4 of 8,011 species of amphibians vertebrates that inhabit both aquatic and terrestrial habitats. The state of the worlds amphibians is more dire now than at the time of the first such assessment in 2004, when 39% of species were threatened, according to updated data for that period. Human activities and climate change have upset our planets delicate balance, to the detriment of its flora and fauna. Amphibians are in the worst shape among vertebrates with 27% of mammals, 21% of reptiles and 13% of birds found to be threatened with extinction in separate assessments. The amphibian assessment involved a worldwide collaboration by 1,000-plus experts. Finding a species to be threatened with extinction means it has been evaluated as critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list of threatened species, the global authority on wildlife extinction risk. For the most part, protected area identification and conservation planning is geared toward the needs of mammals and birds. Amphibians are falling through the cracks, said conservationist Jennifer Luedtke of the Texas-based global nonprofit Re:wild, co-coordinator of the IUCN Amphibian Specialist Groups red list authority and lead author of the study published in the journal Nature. Amphibians first appeared more than 300 million years ago. Three orders of amphibians exist today: salamanders and newts (60% threatened with extinction); frogs and toads (39%); and the limbless and serpentine caecilians (16%). Since 2004, 306 species have crept closer to extinction, the study found. What is needed now is a global movement to catalyze the recovery of the worlds amphibians, Re:wild conservationist and study coauthor Kelsey Neam said. The researchers identified four amphibian species a frog from Australia, a frog from Guatemala, a salamander from Guatemala and a toad from Costa Rica that have disappeared since 2004. They also listed 185 species as possibly extinct, with no known surviving population. Habitat destruction and degradation, caused mostly by animal agriculture and crops, remained the most common danger, affecting 93% of the threatened amphibian species. But a growing proportion of species was being imperiled by disease and climate change, the researchers found. Amphibians are particularly sensitive to changes in their environment, in part because they breathe through their skin, Neam said. So the effects of climate change increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, changes in moisture and temperature, sea-level rise and fires can result in the loss of key breeding sites, increased mortality, habitat degradation, and habitat shifts that make it harder for amphibians to find suitable places to live, Neam added. While an amphibian pandemic involving a fungal pathogen that causes the disease chytridiomycosis has waned, there is fresh concern that another fungal pathogen seen in Asia and Europe may enter the Americas. The study also cited ongoing threats from the animal trade and human hunting for food. The heaviest concentrations of threatened amphibians were found to be in the Caribbean islands, Mexico and Central America, the tropical Andes region, India, Sri Lanka, Cameroon, Nigeria and Madagascar. Amphibians have evolved into an incredible diversity of sizes, colors and behaviors. They can be as tiny as a common housefly like the Macaya breast-spot frog and as long as a cow like the Chinese giant salamander, Neam said. Amphibians are our allies in understanding the health of our planet, Luedtke said. When we protect and recover amphibians, we protect and restore terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, we safeguard the genetic diversity of our planet, and we invest in a future in which all life including human life thrives. JN ACCESS RANKING The Japan News / Weekly Edition Our weekly ePaper presents the most noteworthy recent topics in an exciting, readable fomat. Read more 2023 The Japan News - by The Yomiuri Shimbun