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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Year of the Frog - frogs are going extinct...

Year of the Frog:

Frogs are going extinct. So are toads, salamanders, newts, and the intriguingly unusual caecilians. In fact, the World Conservation Union (IUCN) estimates that at least one-third of known amphibian species are threatened with extinction. While the major culprit has historically been habitat loss and degradation, many of the declines and extinctions previously referred to as "enigmatic" are now being attributed to the rapidly dispersing infectious disease chytridiomycosis ("chytrid"). This fungus is causing population and species extinctions at an alarming rate. Can you imagine if we were about to lose one-third of the world's mammals?

Chytridiomycosis ("chytrid")
The disease known as chytridiomycosis, results when a chytridiomycete fungus called Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis ("chytrid") attacks keratin in the skin tissue of amphibians. Many researchers believe that this infectious fungus inhibits the frog’s ability to respire and osmoregulate, eventually killing the frog. Chytrid has been implicated in amphibian declines in the Americas, Caribbean, and Australia and its range continues to grow.

Chytrid is not the only cause of amphibian decline, but is a likely explanation for unexplained declines in high-altitude, protected regions and may hasten the collapse of populations weakened by other threats such as habitat destruction, climate change, and water and air pollution.

The combined effect of habitat destruction, climate change, pollution, and chytrid cannot be addressed solely in the wild. Captive assurance populations have become the only hope for many species faced with imminent extinction and are an important component of an integrated conservation effort. AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums, with their demonstrated expertise in endangered species breeding programs, have been called upon to meet this conservation challenge.

The IUCN has classified four amphibians in the U.S. to be critically endangered, the Mississippi gopher frog, the Chiricahua leopard frog, the mountain yellow-legged frog, and the Wyoming toad. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has listed thirty-seven amphibian species under the Endangered Species Act. AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums may be their only hope for survival.

World-wide Cooperation
AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums and the AZA Conservation and Science Department are working closely with our partners to develop and implement a global action plan for amphibian conservation:

Read story here

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