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Extinction Countdown

Extinction Countdown

News and research about endangered species from around the world

World's frogs disappearing: Save the Frogs Day calls for action

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Tree FrogSave the frogs! That's the call going out from the scientific community today on the first annual Save the Frogs Day.

Frogs (and all amphibians) around the world are in dire straits, with nearly one-third of the world's 6,317 species on the brink of extinction, according to the Save the Frogs Foundation, headquartered in Centreville, Va.

Threats to amphibians include the deadly chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis), which infects amphibians' skin and interferes with their ability to absorb water and oxygen. Since it was first observed in 1999, chytrid fungus has now been found on all six continents with amphibian populations. According to Amphibian Ark, when the fungus hits a community, "50% of amphibian species and 80% of individuals can be expected to disappear within 1 year." So far, no cure or prevention for chytrid fungus exists.

Other threats to frogs include habitat destruction, pollution and pesticides, climate change, invasive species, and over-harvesting for the pet and food trades.

There are several things the average citizen can do to help save frogs. For one thing, avoid using pesticides such as Monsanto's Roundup, which Save the Frogs says is lethal to many frog species. Also refrain from stocking ponds with non-native fish species, buying wild-caught amphibians as pets, and use less water, which will help maintain wild habitats.

Those who want to take a more active step can sign up for Frogwatch USA, a citizen science monitoring program managed by the National Wildlife Federation on behalf of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

And we got through this post without saying "ribbit" for no reason.

Or we almost did.

Image: Tree frog, via stock.xchng

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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