Amphibian Global Action Team needed to avert an extinction catastrophe

The formation of an Amphibian Survival Alliance (ASA), to coordinate global conservation plans for amphibians in the face of a massive extinction catastrophe has been called for by a group of the world’s foremost amphibian experts, in the latest edition of the journal Science.

Dendrobates pumilio of Costa Rica.

The SSC Amphibian Specialist Group of the World Conservation Union (IUCN) would head the new ASA and have an initial five-year budget of $400 million. The paper in Science, “Confronting Amphibian Declines and Extinctions,” calls for the implementation of the Amphibian Conservation Action Plan (ACAP) which was created at the Amphibian Conservation Summit (ACS) in 2005. The ACS included global leaders in amphibian research, conservation, and policy and ended with a declaration of action – including the formation of a group much like the ASA.

“Amphibians are facing a dire global extinction crisis that crystallizes the impact that humans are having on the entire natural world,” said Claude Gascon, Co-chair of the IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group and senior Vice-President at Conservation International (CI), “The strategy we outlined in this article lays a clear path towards addressing this catastrophe. If we are not successful in this battle, we will end up losing more than just amphibians”, noted Gascon, who is also one of the co-authors of the Science paper.

The extinction threat to amphibians is clear:

* Nearly one-third of the world’s 5,743 amphibian species are classified as threatened with extinction
* At least nine, and possible as many as 130 species of amphibian have become extinct since 1980, maybe more
* The amphibian fungal disease chytridiomycosis is the worst infectious disease ever recorded among vertebrates in terms of number of species impacted and threat of extinction

“The catastrophic decline and extinction of amphibians is on a scale quite unlike anything we have ever witnessed before,” said Simon Stuart, senior director of the IUCN/Conservation International Biodiversity Assessment Unit and co-author of the paper. “More amphibian species are declining more rapidly, over a wider geographic scale than is the case for any other group of species. With amphibians, the extinction crisis is no longer theoretical. It’s happening right before our eyes.”

The ASA model builds on programs such as the Global Environment Facility and the Turtle Survival Alliance. It would coordinate and support local conservation efforts, handle databases of information, and stimulate the development oft regional amphibian conservation centres (which would include expertise on captive breeding and disease research). Those centres would exist within universities, government agencies, and zoos.

For further information:

Science paper “Confronting Amphibian Declines and Extinctions”
IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group
Amphibian Conservation Summit Declaration
Global Amphibian Assessment
Conservation International ASA press release

For additional information please contact:

Andrew McMullin, IUCN Species Programme Communications Officer:
Tel: +41 (0)22 999 0153

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