Amphibian biodiversity is currently being lost at unprecedented rates around the world, primarily due to human led activities causing, amongst other impacts, habitat loss and degradation, the introduction of invasive species and facilitating the spread of deadly infectious diseases.
By far the single biggest threat facing amphibians is habitat loss and degradation. This affects more than half of the world’s 7,000 plus amphibian species.
As global human populations rise, more and more pressure is being placed on natural resources. As a result, amphibians have lost huge areas of their habitats to agriculture, livestock production, logging, urbanization and other activities.
Click on the tabs below to learn more about how habitat destruction is impacting amphibian populations.
Forests provide a stable environment for amphibians, but they’re being cut down at an alarming rate for agriculture, livestock production and timber
Amphibians are not as adaptable as other animals so are more susceptible to deforestation. They’re very sensitive to environmental changes, including changes in humidity and temperature.
In addition, the majority of deforestation occurs in tropical regions, where amphibian biodiversity is the greatest.
When forests are cleared, sometimes little patches are left behind. Amphibians living in those fragmented patches are especially vulnerable
Unable to disperse and get from one patch of the forest to the next, amphibians have less opportunity to breed. This can impact a species’ population size. It can also lead to reduced access to food sources.
Smaller patches of forest are less environmentally stable than large areas. This can seriously affect amphibians due to their physiology.
As humans encroach on natural habitats, roads, cars and urban areas disrupt natural environments and ecosystems
The effect of man-made disturbances can severely degrade natural environments. This means habitats become less suitable for the species to live in and this in turn has numerous knock-on effects.
Chytridiomycosis is a deadly and highly infectious disease caused by a chytrid fungus known commonly as Bd.
It’s described as one of the worst vertebrate diseases ever recorded. A case in point is the mountain chicken – exposed to the disease, an estimated 99% of the global population has been decimated in the last 14 years. There is currently no cure.
Date Bd chytrid first discovered in dead and dying frogs in Queensland, Australia
Number of countries the Bd chytid fungus has currently been discovered in
100% Mortality in some species infected by Bd chytrid
Amphibians are highly vulnerable to Climate Change, which will also compound the impacts of other threats
Due to their delicate and permeable skins, amphibians are highly susceptible to toxins and pollutants
Non-native animals introduced to an area can have devastating effects on local amphibian populations
Some species are highly desirable in the international pet trade or are used as food, impacting wild populations