Barcelona, Spain � Now facing a higher risk of extinction than any other group of animals on the planet, amphibians are the focus of a new full-color illustrated book providing in-depth information on the status of the 1,900 species most at risk.
Threatened Amphibians of the World was launched today at a special briefing during the IUCN�s World Conservation Congress. Presenting data on the conservation status of all the known species of frogs, toads, salamanders, newts and caecilians, the book is the result of the work of more than 500 scientists around the world who contributed to this global assessment.
According to the results of the assessment, some 43 percent of amphibian species are declining, 32 percent are threatened with extinction, and as many as 122 species may have become extinct since 1980, with 34 species confirmed extinct.
�This study confirms one of the greatest species conservation challenges of our time. In just the past 20 years, the number of known amphibians has increased by 48 percent. Tragically, we are losing them almost as fast as we find them,� said Simon Stuart, one of the lead authors of the book and chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) Biodiversity Assessment Sub-Committee.
When amphibians disappear, we lose critical links in ecosystem food chains. They are often the primary predators of insects, and have been used widely as biological controls of insect pests. Amphibians are also an important food source for other animals, including mammals, reptiles, fish and birds. They are often considered valuable indicators of environmental change in both aquatic and terrestrial environments. Long recognized for their value in traditional medicines, they are an important source of chemical substances for use in modern medicine, with at least 73 amphibians considered to have some kind of medicinal value.
Climate change and emerging infectious diseases are among today�s most serious threats to amphibians, along with habitat loss, chemical contamination and over-harvesting. The chytrid fungal pathogen is a primary cause of many losses, and species most threatened with disease-induced extinction are in high-elevation, riparian habitats with small geographic ranges, according to the book.
�The urgency and scope of the amphibian extinction crisis requires a global scale response. The overall dire state of amphibians is telling us a lot about the general health of the world�s natural environment. We must take immediate action to better understand why amphibians are declining and becoming extinct. We must continue to collect data, and we must design and carry out long-term conservation plans while responding to emergences to save species on the brink of being lost forever,� said Claude Gascon, Executive Vice President, Conservation International and Co-Chair of the IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group.
The book provides details on all 1,900 species threatened with extinction, including a description of threats to each species and an evaluation of conservation measures in place or needed. Each entry includes a color photograph or illustration of the species where available, a distribution map, and detailed information on range, population, habitat and ecology.
An analysis of the results is complemented by a series of short essays written by many of the world's leading herpetologists. Appendices include annotated lists of lower risk species and a country-by-country listing of threatened amphibians.
The book is available to purchase at: http://www.hbw.com/lynx/en/lynx-edicions/portada-lynx/MON0017-threatened-amphibians-world.html
For more information about the Global Amphibian Assessment, visit www.globalamphibians.org.
Photos are available for publication here (past address into web browser): ftp://ftp.conservation.org/Guest/Amphibian%20Photos/
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Conservation International (CI) applies innovations in science, economics, policy and community participation to protect the Earth�s richest regions of plant and animal diversity and demonstrate that human societies can live harmoniously with nature. Founded in 1987, CI works in more than 40 countries on four continents to help people find economic alternatives without harming their natural environments. For more information about CI, visit www.conservation.org.