A Toad in the Coal Mine
Global warming may be contributing to the decline of the western toad and other amphibians, according to a study published last week in Nature. The western toad has been dying off from a fungal-like infection of its eggs. Previous studies had shown that the eggs are susceptible to infection because of higher exposure to ultraviolet light. Now, researchers have shown that the eggs are experiencing more exposure because they are being deposited in shallower water that lets more light through — and the researchers have begun to link the shallower water to weather changes brought about by global warming. The study by scientists from Penn State and Oregon State is the first to connect die-offs of North American amphibians to global warming.