Amphibian populations (frogs, toads, and salamanders) have been declining worldwide at unprecedented rates- 200 species have disappeared since 1980. At present, nearly one-third of the world’s amphibian species are threatened with extinction. Contributing to the rapid rise of amphibian extinctions are many different environmental factors: pollution, infectious diseases, habitat loss, invasive species, climate change, and over-harvesting for the pet and food trades.
Amphibians don't need to drink the way we do; they absorb water through their permeable skin, which means they also readily absorb toxic substances from the environment. Because pollutants, waterborne pathogens, and climate change all affect water quality, these factors in turn affect amphibians. Conversely, amphibians are important indicators of water quality, and are considered a sentinel species, meaning that what affects amphibians presently may affect other animal species in the future. In addition, amphibians are important predators and prey in many ecosystems, and declines in their populations may affect many other species living in the same ecological community. For example, populations of amphibian predators such as snakes, birds, mammals, and fish may be especially affected by a loss in amphibians. Moreover, the populations of species that amphibians eat, such as mosquitoes, may increase as amphibians disappear.
Of all these threats to amphibians, the most pressing today is the chytrid fungus, a deadly skin fungus that has moved across the globe killing amphibians by the millions. Though the chytrid fungus has been present for a long time in Africa, Japan, and eastern North America, global trade in amphibians for food, for use as laboratory animals, or for use as pets or display animals is responsible for movement of the chytrid fungus to locations where it was not previously present.
REASONS FOR HOPE: Earlier this year, New York environmental officials released a management plan to protect and restore populations of the endangered northern cricket frog. Under the plan, the state will protect remaining populations and habitats and work with willing landowners to help the frogs colonize other suitable habitats.
In 2010, international regulations under the World Organization for Animal Health require that amphibians be free of chytrid fungus infection before international shipment.
In 2009, a group of organizations came together to respond to the chytrid fungus crisis. Defenders of Wildlife (Washington DC), Africam Safari Park (Mexico), Cheyenne Mountain Zoo (Colorado), the Smithsonian National Zoological Park (Washington DC), the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (Panama), Zoo New England (Massachusetts) and Houston Zoo (Texas) have launched the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project.
There are yet undiscovered species of frogs in the world. A new species of flying frog was discovered in the Himalayan Mountains in 2008
Save the Frogs offers Wetland Construction Workshops, constructing actual wetlands for frogs and other wildlife. Constructing wetlands is a fantastic method of educating students, teachers and community members about amphibians and ensuring that amphibians have a home in which to live and breed.