Thursday, April 28, 2011

Huge decline of amphibians is a major threat to global biodiversity

Many amphibian species are at the brink of extinction. The decline of amphibians is happening in all corners of the world and scientists still do not fully understand the reasons behind such excessive population loss.

There could be many different causes behind the decline of amphibians such as habitat loss, environmental pollution, invasive species, predation, reproduction, disease and of course the ever present climate change.

Some scientists believe that this rapid decline of amphibians is a clear sign of yet another major extinction episode in the earth's history. The current rate of their extinction has reached horrific level as it is happening more than 200 times faster than that of the average extinction rate.

In the last century or so, our environment (and our planet in general) has experienced severe environmental changes any by the current looks of it amphibians are among the species least ready to adapt to these changes.

Dr Andrew Blaustein, a professor of zoology at Oregon State University, has colorfully stated that one of the main reasons for amphibians struggle to keep up with these changes is the fact that "with a permeable skin and exposure to both aquatic and terrestrial problems, amphibians face a double whammy".

Science is running out of time to save amphibians. So many different extinction causes make this problem extremely complex and science is so far finding it very hard to come up with the adequate answers.

While some causes are natural the others originate from humans. In many areas of the world human activity represents a major hurdle to amphibian adaptation, the one that only few amphibian species will be capable to overcome.

Amphibians are ecological indicators and their massive decline in the last few decades is a major threat to global biodiversity. The worst part is that these species are often ignored and overlooked when it comes to conservation. Existing conservation efforts as well as scientific efforts are not enough and by the current looks of it only a miracle can stop their further population decline.

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