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World's frog species face extinction due to pollution and climate change, scientists warn

Friday, July 07, 2006 by: NewsTarget
Tags: amphibians, frog species, life science

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(NewsTarget) Fifty leading environmental researchers are campaigning to secure nearly $370 million for protecting the world's frog and toad population as urbanization, global warming and industrial pollution threaten to wipe out almost a third of frog and toad species worldwide.

If funding is secured, the Amphibian Survival Alliance will monitor and research amphibians, as well as engage in disease management and captive breeding.

Since amphibians' 300 million year history of existence predates the earliest known dinosaurs, scientists are troubled by their sudden decline in numbers.

"This is part of an overall biodiversity crisis, and amphibians seem to have been hit the hardest of all vertebrate species," said Professor Andrew Blaustein of Oregon State University, one of the first experts to record a decline in amphibian species 20 years ago.

According to Herpetological Conservation Trust Chief Executive Tony Gent, declining amphibian populations are often seen as a sign that the environment is drastically changing. Amphibians are affected by changes to both water and land.

"We are certainly aware of large-scale decline globally, and there sometimes seems no hope for (amphibians') survival," Gent said.

One of the key factors thought to be contributing to the extinction is a fungus that causes an infectious disease that can wipe out amphibian populations within six months of its appearance. The fungus' spread has possibly been accelerated by global climate change and pollution.

According to researchers, around 122 amphibian species have become extinct worldwide since 1980, and another 32 percent are currently considered at risk of extinction.


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