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Frogs And Toads Are Dying Like Flies: End Of The World?

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First Posted: May 23, 2013 11:45 PM EDT
A Hourglass Treefrog (Hyla ebraccata) rests on a leaf

A Hourglass Treefrog (Hyla ebraccata) rests on a leaf Credit:Reuters

Frog, salamander and toad populations are on a serious decline, which may lead to their extinction by the year 2033, a new study, conducted by the US Geological Survey, suggests.

The amphibian population, particularly frogs, toads and salamanders, are dying at the rate of 3.7 percent per year. Also, endangered amphibians are expected to finally become extinct in around 6 years.

This study looked at the amphibian populations particularly in the United States, and found that the numbers are rapidly decreasing even in the most protected areas. "Even in what we consider pristine areas, we are seeing amphibian decline. If anything is doing poorly in an area we think is protected, that says something about our level of protection and about what may be happening outside those areas," biologist Erin Muths explained.

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Though this particular study focused only on how the amphibian population is slowly getting smaller, there's another study, which may help scientists understand the factors causing this rapid decline in the amphibian population.

A report titled 'Catastrophic amphibian declines have multiple causes, no simple solution' published by the Oregon State University may help explain the factors that affect this decline in the amphibian population.

"The amphibian declines are linked to natural forces such as competition, predation, reproduction and disease, as well as human-induced stresses such as habitat destruction, environmental contamination, invasive species and climate change," the report says.

Zoologist Andrew Blaustein explains yet another reason why the amphibian population may be declining at such a rapid rate - the presence of their permeable skin. This permeable skin tends to make the amphibians more susceptible to any aquatic problems, and being terrestrial, they are more likely to be affected by land problems too.

The rapid decline of this amphibian population may prove to pose difficulties to humans too, given that these frogs, toads and other amphibians play  a huge role in maintaining the ecological balance firstly by keeping the insect population in check, and also by being an ideal prey for different carnivores, thereby helping keep the food chain functioning properly.

"Amphibians are going, but a lot of other species are going, too. Snakes are declining. Mammals are declining. We're seeing bird declines. Amphibians are probably declining at a faster rate than other groups, and they may be a little more sensitive," co-author of the study, Stephen Corn, said.

Looks like serious steps may be needed in the near future to prevent this decline and preserve the ecosystem stability. Or else, the future of mankind itself may be at stake.

 

 

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