Ark Fact Sheet - Amphibian Crisis
What Are Amphibians?
• Frogs and toads
• Salamanders and newts
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,
Frogs have had a special place in various human cultures for centuries,
cherished as agents of life and good luck.
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.
• Habitat loss
• Climate change
• Pollution and pesticides
• Introduced species
• Over-collection for food and pets
• Most immediate cause…a parasitic fungus called
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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