Scientists have recently discovered that the amphibian populations are most likely to accelerate in decline, some to the point of extinction, more than was previously thought. They have analyzed the geographical spread of the main threats to frogs, toads and other amphibians and found that the richest regions in terms of biodiversity are also the ones that are under the greatest threat. Climate change and the loss of habitats due to changes in the way land is used are acting as a double whammy instead of effecting them independently.

Amphibians are thought to be particularly vulnerable to human activities because they depend on both terrestrial and aquatic habitats for survival. They also have a porous skin that easily absorbs environmental pollutants. In addition they are being attacked by the chytrid fungus, which is suspected to be spread by the commercial trade in frogs and toads.

Researchers have mapped out the level of threats to amphibians on a global scale based on climate change, land-use and fungal disease. This effort was led by Professor Carsten Rahbek of Copenhagen University. What they found was that the highest concentrations of amphibians are experiencing the greatest changes to their landscapes.

It was also found that the regions where climate and land-use change tended to overlap that they had the highest projected impact on the amphibians. In contrast, the threat posed by the fungal disease showed little spatial overlap with the other two threats.
As was noted by Professor Tim Halliday of Open University, "In my view, amphibians are indicators of a much larger problem, the global deterioration of freshwater habitats. The WWF Living Planet Report has shown that biodiversity is declining faster in freshwater than in any other biome, including coral reefs and tropical forest."

Conservationists predict that about a third of the estimated 6,000 amphibian species in existence are in peril. This new study backs up that prediction that climate change and habitat loss will combine to boost the rate at which species become extinct. Another sad comment on how we as a human species are steadfastly destroying our planet and the life that depends on it.

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