Amphibians fall victim to climate change: Study
Explore the critical role of climate change in driving amphibians toward extinction and the urgent need for conservation efforts.
Climate change is the primary factor driving amphibians closer to extinction, a study published on Wednesday showed.
Over the past two decades, amphibians have consistently ranked as the most threatened vertebrates. This vulnerability is largely due to their reliance on moist environments, where frogs, toads, newts, salamanders, and other cold-blooded creatures reside.
Amphibians, unlike animals with feathers, hair, or scales, lack protective coverings. As a result, extreme heat associated with climate change causes rapid dehydration and the loss of critical breeding sites that require moisture, essential for this class of animals.
Furthermore, more frequent and intense storms, floods, and rising sea levels can devastate their forest habitats and breeding grounds.
Kelsey Neam, a member of the Amphibian Specialist Group at the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Species Survival Commission, noted that these changes often occur too rapidly for amphibians to adapt.
She stressed that climate change is a greatly underestimated threat to amphibians, which will become increasingly visible as more data becomes available, which might lead to an exponential effect.
A study in 2004, the Global Amphibian Assessment, already identified amphibians as the world's most threatened vertebrates. A recent study published in the journal Nature built upon this assessment, evaluating 8,011 species for the IUCN Red List.
The findings revealed that nearly 41% of amphibians are globally threatened, falling into categories like "critically endangered," "endangered," and "vulnerable". This represents a deterioration from 37.9% in 1980 and 39.4% in 2004.
From 2004 to 2022, climate change was the primary driver behind 39% of status declines, affecting 119 species. Habitat loss and degradation accounted for 37% of these declines.
Habitat loss and damage due to factors like agriculture, infrastructure development, and other industries remained the most common threats but did not primarily drive as many status deteriorations.
The authors of the study called for increased investment and policy responses to support amphibians, which play a vital role in ecosystems, contributing to nutrient recycling and sustaining the food web.