Having been around for approximately 350 million years, amphibians have witnessed the dinosaurs come and go, and as a result of pollution, climate change, habitat destruction, over-exploitation for food and the pet trade, almost half of all amphibians are now themselves facing extinction.
Apart from natural and man-made environmental pressures, frogs, toads, newts, salamanders and caecilians are vanishing as a result of a fungus that is spreading rapidly among the world's amphibian populations. It is believed that the chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) originated in Africa, and has already spread throughout all continents except Asia and the poles.
Currently, more than 90 species are affected by the fungus-- this, combined with other environmental factors mentioned above, are responsible for what may be the most devastating mass extinction of a class of animals since the disappearance of the dinosaurs 64 million years ago.
In the last two decades, we have lost over 120 species of amphibians, and we could lose more than half of the existing 6000 species in only ten years if the trend continues. This could have disastrous effects on the planet's equilibrium as amphibians are a critical component of our world's biodiversity.
Apart from providing us with vital biomedicines currently being refined for antibiotics and analgesics, amphibians are indicators of environmental health, acting as "canaries in a coal mine"-- alerting us of dangerous changes in our environment.
For more information regarding the current state of amphibian populations, or to help manage the current extinction crisis, visit Amphibian Ark at amphibianark.org.
Jump in. Because frogs matter.
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