Experts look to captive breeding to slow amphibian extinction rates
According to this article in Reuters:
Amphibian experts are likely to urge captive breeding to slow a catastrophic rate of extinctions threatening a third of all species of frogs and salamanders, a leading scientist said. While a third of amphibian species are under threat, comparable rates are 12 percent for birds and 23 percent for mammals.
Not looking good. But hey, I put my recycle bin out yesterday. I used to have a cartoon pinned to my wall of a heron with a frog sticking head-first out of his mouth. The frog had grabbed the heron by the throat so he couldn’t swallow. The caption read, “Never give up!”
One problem will be to slow the spread of the fungus, chytridiomycosis, which smothers amphibians’ skin. We don’t know if the fungus has always been present and is becoming more virulent because of other stresses.
Or has it jumped from another group, like avian flu?
Interesting. I have been thinking along this same line for some time now. I have a hypothesis as to how this fungus has gotten into every just about every frog habitat on the planet, from the Congo to the high Andes. The thought first crossed my mind when the Golden Toad of Costa Rica went extinct just a few years after its discovery. That is one hell of a coincidence. Herpetologists handle frogs from all over the world, in the wild, in their labs, in their zoos. It is entirely plausible that they have been passing the fungus spores on by simply handling wild frogs. Anyone looking for a controversial thesis topic?
On a more positive note, I made a trip to the Adirondacks last year and saw literally hundreds of frogs and toads representing about eight species. It had been an unusually wet summer and they were everywhere.
I also made a trip to Costa Rica that summer and saw about fifteen species. They are still out there. It may be too late for some, but there is still hope.