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Are Amphibians About To Go Extinct? The Amphibian Crisis is Worse Than You Think

May 25, 2016 05:46 AM EDT
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As amphibian crisis persists across the United States, scientists are working continuously to come up with an emergency response to reverse their decline. However, a new research has confirmed that there is no simple solution to stop or overturn amphibian declines.

Writing in the journal Scientific Reports, researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey said there is no "smoking gun" to shut down the direct cause of their crumbling population all at once, as the new study revealed that reasons for amphibians' population decline varies across regions.

Although previous studies had shown that environmental factors, land use changes and contamination disease are linked to the declining population of amphibians, there was no study testing the linkage on a larger scale. USGS's study is the first to show the relationship across the country.

After the researchers at USGS performed the study, they found out four main threats to amphibians' populate decline and the threats to amphibians differ from region to region - human influence from the Mississippi River east, including the metropolitan areas of the Northeast and the agriculture-dominated landscapes of the Midwest; disease particularly chytrid fungus in the Upper Midwest and New England, pesticide application at east of the Colorado River, and climate change across the southern United States and the West Coast.

Chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) is the worst disease recorded in amphibian history. Savethefrogs.com has identified 287 species of amphibians across 36 countries that are affected by the disease. 

Although there were many reasons identified, the obvious is that amphibians are largely impacted by human activities. The environmental impacts of toxic wastes contributed by humans to pursue for a thriving industry make the amphibians' surroundings inhabitable. Being reliant in their aquatic environment, the quality of the water in which they live can affect their growth, development and survival.

It is thought that having the ability to live both in aquatic and terrestrial territory makes them twice as vulnerable to threats. Having exposed skin and eggs laid without protection, they are defenseless and may readily absorb toxic substances from the environment.

"Implementing conservation plans at a local level will be key in stopping amphibian population losses, since global efforts to reduce or lessen threats have been elusive," said Evan Grant, a USGS research wildlife biologist who led the study, in a press release sent to Nature World News.

"This research changes the way we need to think about amphibian conservation by showing that local action needs to be part of the global response to amphibian declines, despite remaining questions in what is causing local extinctions," he added.

A study published in SAPIENS revealed that out of 15,589 species threatened with extinction, 12% of them are bird species, 23% are mammal species are threatened, and 32% are amphibians.

The first amphibian decline was documented in the 1960s. At present, the research revealed the average amphibian population decline has reached 3.79 % per year. 

To save the species from complete extinction, farmers must use an alternative to pesticides. This can directly help in the diminishing amphibian population. In addition, people must maintain the natural ground cover and aquatic vegetation to serve as shelter to the species. On a more specific note, monitoring and conducting more research about the threatened amphibian species is strongly advised.

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