Earth’s amphibians – from the thorny spike-thumb frog to the red knobby newt, West African giant squeaker, ornate tree toad and fire salamander – are being pushed closer to the brink due to habitat destruction, disease and climate change, with 41% of species now threatened with extinction.
Those are the findings of a new global assessment unveiled by conservationists on Wednesday of 8,011 species of amphibians – vertebrates that inhabit both aquatic and terrestrial habitats. The state of the world’s amphibians is more dire now than at the time of the first such assessment in 2004, when 39% of species were threatened, according to updated data for that period.
Human activities and climate change have upset our planet’s delicate balance, to the detriment of its fauna and flora. Amphibians are in the worst shape among the vertebrates – with 27% of mammals, 21% of reptiles and 13% of birds found to be threatened with extinction in separate assessments.
The amphibian assessment involved a worldwide collaboration by 1,000-plus experts. Finding a species to be threatened with extinction means it has been evaluated as “critically endangered,” “endangered” or “vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) “red list” of threatened species, the global authority on wildlife extinction risk.