Thursday, November 17, 2011

Amphibian decline should be on our radar


Since I began writing on our environment back in the 1990”s dire warnings about the loss of amphibians around the world have been circulating. You’d hear a story here and there, but this looming crisis was rarely in mainstream media. What is the life of a frog or salamander compared to whether your football team is winning or losing?

But, think a moment. What role does an entire family of animals (fauna) play in the biological machinations of our environment? Let me unpack that last statement: Do we know if our environment, the actual environment that humankind needs to sustain its way of life, can endure the massive loss of amphibians? Amphibians--turtles and frogs and much more--lasted through the demise of the dinosaurs. They been around a long time and what this means is the amphibians are probable integral to how our environment actually works.

They aren’t just another pretty face. Amphibians do stuff and stuff happens because of them—as all the players in our environment. And because amphibians go back into our evolution so far, we aren’t just going to miss them because we like all that croaking at night; we are probably going to miss them because they have a critical role in the vast biological machinery that begat and sustains our existence. We probably don’t have a complete picture of how amphibians buttress our environment, but instead of letting them die off, we should be finding out more.

But now, because of our way of life, this particular fauna (and most of the others for that matter) are dropping away. Even if frogs and turtles and salamanders aren’t our ‘thing’ what do we need to know about this crisis? Check this out:

Amphibians facing 'terrifying' rate of extinction | Environment | The Guardian Researchers say tropical regions of richest diversity are most at risk of losing frogs, toads, newts and salamanders | If the current rapid extermination of animals, plants and other species really is the "sixth mass extinction", then it is the amphibian branch of the tree of life that is undergoing the most drastic pruning. In research described as "terrifying" by an independent expert, scientists predict the future for frogs, toads, newts and salamanders is even more bleak than conservationists had realised. (November 16, 2011) The Guardian

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