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Amphibian Rescue In 2016: 5 Conservation Goals For This Year

Jan 13, 2016 03:04 PM EST
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The annual custom of setting resolutions for the new year extends to conservationists and nature advocacy groups who line up goals for saving endangered or threatened animals. One such group, the Amphibian Survival Alliance (ASA), has given itself the lofty goal of protecting each and every unique species. And hey, good that someone's taking responsibility, right? In total, the ASA supports 46 priority species and has made strides in protecting vulnerable frogs, toads, and salamanders - amphibian populations the organization hopes to revive and protect from diseases.

"Amphibians have suffered what has been called the greatest disease-driven loss of biodiversity on record. As we increasingly move things around in our globalized world, novel pathogens spread further and faster, decimating populations and entire species," Robin Moore, ASA Conservation Officer, told Nature World News. 

In his role at the ASA, Moore works with partners around the world to support projects aimed at protecting amphibians in the wild. He also manages the Leapfrog Conservation Fund, which supports the protection of critical amphibian habitat in priority regions. Previously he spearheaded a project known as the Search for Lost Frogs, a global campaign to find amphibian species that had not been seen for years or decades.

Here are five New Year's resolutions he and his colleagues have set for 2016: 

1. Stem the spread and impact of novel diseases affecting amphibians.

"We have been supporting research into techniques to combat chytrid fungi affecting frogs and salamanders, and during 2016 we are joining forces with a network of NGOs (non-governmental organizations) in the U.S. to develop a proposal for a Wildlife Health Bill designed to protect wildlife from the ever-increasing risk of invasive pathogens."

Chytrid fungus is an emerging infectious disease that has plagued nearly 700 amphibian species, leading to widespread population declines and species extinctions across five continents. 

2. Protect and restore amphibian habitats worldwide.

Although 2015 was a very successful year for the ASA, they plan to "really scale up" their efforts toward habitat protection in 2016. This will ensure amphibians have some place to call home and will help protect the animals from impeding impacts of climate change.   

"The number one threat to the survival of most amphibians (and biodiversity as a whole) is the loss and degradation of suitable habitat. The alliance has to date helped to protect over 15,000 hectares of important habitat for amphibians in the Americas, Africa and Asia - home to 46 priority species - with 2015 being our most successful year yet with support through the Leapfrog Conservation Fund.

"Protecting forests is also key to mitigating climate change, so by preserving habitat we are essentially tackling two major threats at the same time."

3. Mobilize a community of amphibian conservationists in Madagascar.

"Over the last few years the unique frogs of Madagascar have taken a hard hit by a number of new threats – the potentially deadly chytrid fungus was finally detected on the island, an invasive toad has gained a foothold, habitat loss continues, and climate change has been shown to affect species' ranges."

Therefore, saving the frogs of Madagascar - over 400 species found nowhere else in the world - will be a major focus for the ASA in 2016.

"The Alliance has just secured a grant of around $200,000 to support our partners in Madagascar in developing and implementing a comprehensive conservation strategy."

4. Find, and protect, more lost frogs.

"In recent years, some amphibian species that were thought to have been driven to extinction have made a surprising reappearance, offering a second chance at survival."

For example, the Quito rocket frog (Hyloxalus jacobuspetersi) went on a 19-year hiatus between 1989 and 2008, during which time it could not be found in its natural range in Ecuador. "Lost" species ultimately offer invaluable clues as to why they survived and others around them disappeared, making them important subjects for research and conservation.

"The ASA is a central hub for information on species both lost and found; and we look forward to advancing leaps and bounds in our quest to find and save more lost species in 2016."

5. Engage more people than ever before in amphibian conservation.

"More and more people are becoming aware that we are entering a sixth mass extinction event, and that amphibians are especially at risk. And more and more people seem to care. As the world's largest partnership for amphibian conservation, the ASA is uniquely positioned to harness this growing desire to do something to save amphibians and to channel resources where they are needed most"

A recent crowd funding campaign launched by the ASA includes the "Adopt-a-Tadpole" project, aimed at saving the Quito Rocket frog from the path of an active volcano in Ecuador.

"We plan to offer more ways in 2016 in which people can help save species and their homes, and by telling stories of success infuse people with hope and a sense that we really can make a difference." 

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