A recently published report from the U.S. Geological Survey shows a 3.7 percent national yearly population decline in amphibian–including frogs, salamanders and other amphibian species.
The report was published at the end of May 2013 and is the first to demonstrate the decline in U.S. based amphibian populations. The most alarming conclusion made by the USGS is these amphibian species could disappear from half of their current habitats during the next 20 years if the rate of decline remains the same. Although the study didn’t cite specific reasons for the causes of population decline, scientists believe that possible reasons could include climate change, disease and drought.
The USGS study was conducted between 2002 and 2011 by analyzing the presence of 48 species of toads, frogs, salamanders and other amphibians in 34 different ponds and wetland habitats. Several different regions in the U.S. were chosen as study sites, including federally protected lands such as national parks and nature reserves. This widespread population decline trend that the study observed brought researchers to the conclusion that amphibian disappearance might be much more serious and widespread than previously thought.
A global study conducted by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species in amphibian populations was released in 2004. The findings showed that nearly one-third of the more than 6,300 species of amphibians are endangered. The study also found that 43 percent of amphibian populations are constantly declining and nearly 168 species are believed to have gone extinct. The USGS study has shown a follow-up of the rapid decline of endangered species, as their study found an 11.6 percent annual decline specifically for species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list.
Amphibians have previously been regarded as a robust species capable of sustaining themselves through the climate changes of the previous century, but the USGS study definitely shows otherwise. Amphibians have lived in the Earth’s ponds, lakes, rivers and streams for more than 350 million years, thus surviving numerous changes that have caused many other species to become extinct. They play a key role in the health and vitality of an environment, acting as both predators and prey for several aquatic, airborne and land bound species. Although the USGS study covered a relatively short period of time, it marks a notable change as it shows how quickly these age-old survivors are disappearing, signifying the irreversible impacts of our harmful and egotistical manipulation of the environment.