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Science: Confronting amphibian declines and extinctions

July 10, 2006

Science: Confronting amphibian declines and extinctions

The authors call for formation of The Amphibian Survival Alliance (ASA)led by an international secretariat of the Specialist Group of the Species Survival Commission of IUCN

A group of 43 specialists from 17 countries, led by STRI visiting scientist Joseph R. Mendelson III and including Karen R. Lips and Roberto Ibáñez published the article “Confronting amphibian declines and extinctions” in today's issue of Science (313: 48).

“Amphibian declines and extinctions are global and rapid: 32.5% of 5743 described species are threatened, with at least 9, and perhaps 122, becoming extinct since 1980.” Amphibians disappear across the whole taxonomic group and in nearly all regions of the planet. Familiar causes like loss of habitat and exotic species are involved in their disappearance. But the emergence of the infection disease chytridiomycosis, caused by the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), will require unprecedented conservation efforts. Predictions indicate than in four to six months after Bd arrives, 50% of amphibian species and 80% of individuals may disappear.

In Panama, the Golden Frog Frog, Atelopus zeteki, is nearly extinct in the wild as a combined result of habitat change, illegal collecting, and fungal disease; the species is currently secure in several ex situ programs.

Scientists, conservationists and policy leaders agreed on an Amphibian Conservation Action Plan (ACAP) and Declaration in 2005. An international body was recommended to coordinate conservation programs, and to gather and administer funds.

In the article “Confronting amphibian declines and extinctions” the authors call for formation of The Amphibian Survival Alliance (ASA)led by an international secretariat of the Specialist Group of the Species Survival Commission of IUCN, with an initial five-year budget requires at least $400 million.

The ASA model builds on programs such as the Turtle Survival Alliance. “Success will depend on a paradigm shift in the scale of the coordinate response from the academic, conservation, zoo, ethics, policy, global change, private section, the international biodiversity convention communities uniting for one goal. Support from individuals, governments, foundations, and wider conservation community is essential” conclude the researchers.

The article was distributed by Neal G. Smith. You may also obtain it from: calderom@si.edu

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