29 September 2008

Amphibian populations could halve by 2050

Half of Europe's frogs and toads and newts could be wiped out in the next 40 years, scientists from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) have warned.

Factors including climate change, habitat destruction and disease are having a serious effect, said ZSL scientists at a special event hosted by Sir David Attenborough on 25th September 2008.

Speaking at the lecture, Dr Trent Garner, a Research Fellow at ZSL, said climate change will dramatically affect the living conditions of amphibians and survival of populations:

“Published projections show that climate change alters amphibians’ habitats so we expect a large number of amphibian species to be faced with loss of habitat and ultimately extinction.” said Dr Garner.

“In the UK we are already seeing common toads losing condition and experiencing reduced survival. As climate change continues to impact habitats, the situation gets far worse for these native species.” he added.

In addition to identifying climate change as a threat, Dr Garner and his colleagues also highlighted two infectious diseases affecting survival rates, a chytrid fungus and ranaviruses. Ranavirus kills thousands of amphibians in the UK each year and the chytrid fungus, implicated in extinctions of amphibian species around the world, has recently been identified in the UK.

Froglife and the Institute of Zoology (based at ZSL) have been working on the issue of amphibian disease in the UK since 1992, through our Frog Mortality Project. Currently Froglife are running a Frog Disease Appeal so that the Frog Mortality Project can expand and better inform scientists of the disease threat, working toward a safer future for the UK's amphibians >>> Frog Disease Appeal…

Later this year solutions to the imminent extinction crisis facing the world’s amphibians will be discussed at another ZSL event: ‘Halting the Global Decline in Amphibians: research and practice’ – a two-day symposium being held on 20 & 21st of November 2008 >>> More details…

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