27 November 2007

An Absence of Amphibians

Old pond
and a frog-jump-in
water-sound

This famous haiku by the Japanese poet Bashô evokes images of an evening filled with the chorus of croaking frogs and splashes as they leap into an old pond. Unfortunately, unnoticed by the majority of the world's population, frogs around the world are falling silent. As various threats to their survival converge, like ants on a fallen bread crust, amphibian species in every nation are facing extinction. Threats such as habitat loss and fragmentation, climate change, pollution, and invasive species are stacking themselves up against amphibian populations. To top it all off, the deadly chytrid fungus, perhaps helped along by global warming, is devastating amphibians everywhere. Chytridiomycosis, the disease caused by the fungus, causes a problem in the functioning of the amphibian's pores, making it difficult for them to absorb water. Without the ability to rehydrate, they soon die from a lack of water.

Now, scientists around the world are working together in an effort to save the amphibians from impending doom. Amphibian Ark, a collaboration between several conservation organizations, is asking zoos and botanical gardens around the world to create a safe haven for a species of amphibian. These havens would only be temporary, until the disease crisis has been averted, and the animals can be safely returned to their natural habitats. If their efforts are unsuccessful, I don't want to imagine what will happen to the balance of the world's ecosystems as a whole class of animals is wiped out.

This issue is not something to be taken lightly. It's downright scary when you think of the implications of what could happen if all of the frogs, toads, and other amphibians disappeared. Frog Matters, a blog with the latest happenings from Amphibian Ark has a great post on things that anyone can do to help prevent a mass extinction.

Donate now to help prevent the next great extinction.

1 comment:

Jeff said...

Goodness gracious, this is the best article I've ever read on this crisis. It's on my blog in 5 minutes. Thank you!