Threat to world's amphibians assessed

Nov. 16, 2011 at 6:10 PM
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COPENHAGEN, Denmark, Nov. 16 (UPI) -- As amphibian populations decline worldwide, a European study says the areas of greatest amphibian species richness are those subject to the greatest threat.

Amphibian declines far exceed those of other animal groups with more than 30 percent of all species listed as threatened on the Red List of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Research led by the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate of the University of Copenhagen found the most serious threats to amphibians are climate change, land-use change and the fungal disease chytridiomycosis, a university release reported Wednesday.

Study author Christian Hof and European colleagues assessed the geographical distribution of these threats in relation to the global distribution of amphibians.

"Regions where climate and land-use change have the highest projected impact on amphibians tend to overlap; by contrast, the threat posed by the fungal disease shows little spatial overlap with the other two threats," Hof said.

The researchers said the most species-rich areas in the world are more likely to be exposed to one or more threats than areas with low species richness.

"Our study shows that more than two thirds of the global amphibian diversity hot spots will likely be strongly affected by at least one of the three threats considered," Miguel Araujo of the Spanish Research Council said.

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