July 9, 2006

July 09, 2006 9:51 PM

“Something is wrong with the planet.” ………..This is from The Telegraph (U.K.) and it , along with the report on bird species disappearing has disturbed me deeply. I ran 9 miles tonight. And I am still in the midst of endorphins (“runner’s high) but my eyes are wet and my spirit saddened as i just read this: … ” Fifty of the world’s leading researchers of amphibians appeal today in the journal Science for funding to establish the Amphibian Survival Alliance to help to reduce and prevent decline and extinction.

Of the 5,743 known species of amphibians, 32.5 per cent are threatened, and between nine and 122 have become extinct since 1980. It is time, the scientists say, for a more organized and effective approach to address the various diseases, habitat loss, invading species and other causes of this decline.

“This is part of an overall biodiversity crisis, and amphibians seem to have been hit the hardest of all vertebrate species,” said Prof Andrew Blaustein, of Oregon State University, who first helped to document amphibian declines two decades ago.

“Something is wrong with the planet,” he said. “Amphibians play a major role in many ecosystems. In some places the amphibian biomass is greater than that of all other vertebrates. The ecological repercussions of their decline could be profound. We have to do something about it.”

The initiative would involve research, training, monitoring, salvage operations, disease management, captive breeding and possibly a global network of centres. This is from the Telegraph (U.K.) :

Amphibians have existed for more than 300 million years, thriving before the dinosaurs and outliving many other species. Their decline has alarmed many researchers.

Prof Blaustein said: “Amphibians have sensitive skin, they live in both land and water, have no protective hair or feathers, and their eggs have no hard outer shell. So it’s clear why they may be vulnerable on some levels.

“However, they persisted for hundreds of millions of years and just now are disappearing in many areas.”

Some of the causes have been identified. Rising levels of ultraviolet radiation, increases in pollutants and pesticides, extensive habitat loss due to agriculture or urbanization, invasive species and fungal diseases are all implicated.

The demise of amphibians also has ecological ripple effects – they control insect pests, and in turn serve as part of the food supply for birds, fish and other animals. The loss of species also eliminates their possible use in biomedicine and biotechnology.” …