Saturday, October 10, 2009

Many amphibian species threatened with extinction

Amphibians have inhabiting this planet for about 360 million years now, which is over 100 million years before the mammals appeared and 200 million years before first birds appeared. Among most famous amphibians are frogs, toads, salamanders and newts, and total number of all amphibian species is somewhere around 6,000 species. Amphibians are in big trouble these days because third of all amphibian species are threatened with extinction, and nearly half of them are in decline.

Amphibians can be found on every continent except Antarctica, and some of them have really amazing abilities (for instance can survive partial freezing, can go as far as 10 years without food, survive long droughts and temperatures of up to 104F (40C).

The main reasons for their population decline are habitat loss, climate change, invasive species, and contamination of environment that causes different diseases (most serious disease is so called "chytrid" caused by the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis). Many people do not see amphibians as very important creatures that have important impact on earth's ecosystems but this is far from truth. Amphibians play extremely important role in global ecosystems, in some ecosystems as predators in others like prey. They are also very useful for agriculture too since their diet includes lots of different pests.

These species that have been on this planet long before us are now in serious trouble, and yet we are not doing anything that would protect hem from going extinct. Their preservation seems of rather low value compared to questions like climate change, overpopulation, and financial crisis. If we forget about them they will surely disappear and this will cause irreparable damage to many ecosystems.

Urgency is the key for successful preservation efforts but this doesn't look to be the case with amphibians. Amphibian Survival Alliance should soon be launched to unite existing organizations and projects that already work on amphibian conservation, creating one big mutually supportive network. Plans to save one third of all amphibian species are already developed, and they wouldn't cost that much, so there is really no reason why world shouldn't act as quickly as possible to save these ancient creatures from going extinct.

Frogs are most famous of all amphibians

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