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Amphibian Ark Fact Sheet - Amphibian Crisis

What Are Amphibians? 
• Frogs and toads
• Salamanders and newts
• Caecilians

Benefits of Amphibians
They play an important role in nature as both predator and prey, sustaining the delicate balance of nature.
 
They eat pest insects, benefiting successful agriculture around the world and minimizing the spread of disease, including malaria.
 
The skin of amphibians has substances that protect them from some microbes and viruses, offering possible medical cures for a variety of human diseases, including AIDS.
 
Frogs have had a special place in various human cultures for centuries, cherished as agents of life and good luck.

Amphibian Crisis
One-third to one-half of the world’s approximately 6,000 known amphibian species could go extinct in our lifetime. This would be the largest mass extinction since the disappearance of the dinosaurs.
 
Amphibians are considered canaries in the coal mine: they are among the first species to be affected by environmental stressors, so when they show declines in the wild, it is a warning to other species, including humans.
 
Their population declines and extinctions signal that changes are occurring in the environment that will also negatively impact humans.

Causes
• Habitat loss
• Climate change
• Pollution and pesticides
• Introduced species
• Over-collection for food and pets
• Most immediate cause…a parasitic fungus called  
  amphibian chytrid

What is Amphibian Chytrid?
Amphibian chytrid is a disease that infects the skin of amphibians, a vital organ through which many drink and breathe.
 
It was discovered a decade ago; dozens of frog species have already vanished because of it. In environments where it thrives, the fungus can kill 80 percent of the native amphibians within months.
 
Currently, it is unstoppable and untreatable in the wild, even in ‘protected’ areas.
 
Amphibian chytrid is believed to have originated in Africa. The export of African clawed frogs (likely resistant carriers of the fungus) around the world for human pregnancy testing and lab studies spread this disease worldwide. Recently, the food and pet trades may have contributed to the problem as well.
 
The chytrid’s spread and effects may be exacerbated by climate change – warmer temperatures dry the moist areas where amphibians live, causing stress that may lead to greater susceptibility to the disease.

 

  

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  Year of the Frog Press Release

 


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