Frogs on verge of extinction
Frogs are the most populous group of the amphibia class, which also includes salamanders and caecilians. Their population has been on the decline for some time due to pollution, global warming and habitat destruction from human development. Frogs are reported to have lost an estimated 170 species in the last 10 years alone, with another 1,900 in a threatened state, which is one step below the endangered designation.
Why should I be aware of this?
Widespread extinction of amphibians would be catastrophic as frogs are important as they are significant as an 'indicator species’ - serving as a warning when there is something wrong with the environment.
They also offer many other benefits which are a critical part of a healthy world. They play an important role in the food web as both predator and prey, eating insects which benefits agriculture and minimizes disease spread. Their skin also has substances that protect them from some microbes and viruses, offering promising medical cures for a variety of human diseases.
Scientists are concerned about the sudden decline in the numbers of amphibians who have a 300 million year history of existence and predate the earliest known dinosaurs. As it is a part of an overall biodiversity crisis, the decline in amphibian populations is often seen as a sign that the environment is drastically changing. Amphibians are affected by changes to both water and land.
All about frogs on verge of extinction
As frogs have extremely thin skin they are acutely sensitive to even minor changes in temperature, humidity, and air or water quality.
Another key factor attributed to the possibility of their extinction is a fungus that causes an infectious disease that can wipe out amphibian populations within six months of its appearance.
Their sensitive skin also makes frogs more susceptible to chytrid fungus. About two-thirds of the 110 known harlequin frog species are believed to have vanished during the 1980s and 1990s. The primary reason is the disease-causing chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. The fungus spread of the fungus has possibly been accelerated by global climate change and pollution.
Habitat loss is another reason for their disappearance. Warming (and the weather changes that go along with warming) shrinks habitats, as does human activities of expansion over larger areas.
Eating them to extinction
As per conservationists, apart from global warming and pollution frogs might also be at risk of being 'eaten to extinction'. Global trade in frogs for meat has also led to the decline in frog population. There has been a considerable increase in global frog meat trade in the past two decades, with France and the United States the two largest importers, according to UN reports
World's most endangered frogs
- Panamanian golden frog
The Panamanian golden frog, considered as a national icon and good luck charm, is now likely extinct in the wild because of chytrid fungus.
- Wyoming toad
Once a common sight on the Laramie plains of Albany County, Wyoming, it now exists only in captivity and within Mortenson Lake national wildlife refuge in Wyoming, and is classified as being extinct in the wild. A combination of factors such as the spraying of insecticides to control mosquitoes, changes in agricultural practices, an increase in predators and climatic changes contributed to the collapse of the population Kihansi spray toad
- Lehmann's poison frog
This brightly colored frog – which comes with red, orange or yellow stripes - is critically endangered due to habitat loss and degradation as a result of agricultural development, illegal crops, logging, human settlement and pollution.
- Interior robber frog
Found in the interior uplands of eastern Puerto Rico, this frog has suffered a population decline of more than 80% due to introduced predators and amphibian chytrid disease.
- Mountain chicken frog
This frog, known both as the giant ditch frog and the mountain chicken, is critically endangered, with a population decline of around 80% in the last 10 years, following volcanic eruptions during the 1990s and subsequent predation by feral pigs and rats.
- Cowan's mantilla
This small, toxic frog living in the high plateaus of Madagascar is critically endangered as a result of deforestation for agriculture and human settlement.
- Corroboree frog
The Corroboree frog is a spectacular but critically endangered frog that has declined dramatically in distribution and abundance in Australia.
- Table mountain ghost frog
This rare species is only found on Table Mountain in Cape Town, where it lives in streams and moist, forested gorges. It is under threat from new plants in the national park that covers that area, visitors, and a high number of fires.
- Chinese giant salamander
The world's largest amphibian, the Chinese giant salamander, can reach lengths of up to 1.8m. Critically endangered, primarily due to illegal hunting and habitat alteration and loss.
More on Frogs on verge of extinction
What can I do to help
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- Frogs on the Verge of a Major Extinction
- World's amphibians under threat