Rabb's fringe-limbed tree frog

Rabb's fringe-limbed tree frog. Photo: Brad Wilson.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has just released its 2009 Red List, and it includes over 17,000 species that are currently threatened by extinctin. The Red List is a comprehensive, global approach for evaluating the conservation status of animal and plant species. This method of evaluation began in 1994, and forthcoming Red List workshops will now include the Amphibian Ark’s Conservation Needs Assessment process to evaluate and prioritize amphibians for the specific conservation needs.

The 2009 list contains 1,895 amphibian species that are threatened due to deforestation, climate change, disease and other factors.

The Kihansi spray toad of southern Tanzania is now thought to be extinct in the wild. A dam upstream of Kihansi Falls has dried up the gorge where it lived, and an aggressive fungal disease known as chytridiomycosis appears to have pushed the toad population over the edge, the group said.

The same fate could soon befall the unusually large Rabb’s fringe-limbed tree frog, which glides through the forest using its big webbed feet to steer safely to the ground. It is the only known frog species where the tadpoles feed off skin shed by the male while he guards the young.

The chytrid fungus that causes chytridiomycosis reached central Panama in 2006, a year after scientists first discovered the tree frog. Since then the fungus — believed to be spread by international trade and global warming — has virtually wiped out the wild frog population.

Click here for the full article about the 2009 Red List update.

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Six years ago, promises were made by governments from around the world involving the mass extinctions facing so many animal classes, chief among them the amphibian class. The governments vowed to halt the decline in biodiversity by 2o1o. Well, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) just issued a report that says, in essence, “let’s not kid ourselves, when next year comes around, it’s going to be bleak.”

IUCN, which puts out the Red List of most endangered species, has produced a 150-page report that details the loss of biodiversity earth has experienced over the last 5 years. “Biodiversity continues to decline and next year no one will dispute that,” said the report’s senior editor. “It’s happening everywhere.”

Here’s a link to story I just read about this.  (Click HERE.)

An excerpt from the IUCN Web site:

The report shows nearly one third of amphibians, more than one in eight birds and nearly a quarter of mammals are threatened with extinction. For some plant groups, such as conifers and cycads, the situation is even more serious, with 28 percent and 52 percent threatened respectively. For all these groups, habitat destruction, through agriculture, logging and development, is the main threat and occurs worldwide.

In the case of amphibians, the fungal disease chytridiomycosis is seriously affecting an increasing number of species, complicating conservation efforts. For birds, the highest number of threatened species is found in Brazil and Indonesia, but the highest proportion of threatened or extinct birds is found on oceanic islands. Invasive species and hunting are the main threats. For mammals, unsustainable hunting is the greatest threat after habitat loss. This is having a major impact in Asia, where deforestation is also occurring at a very rapid rate.

Frogs are disappearing at an alarming rate in Europe: “Fifty-nine percent of all European amphibians and 42 percent of reptiles are declining and face even greater risk than European mammals and birds, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature said.” CLICK HERE FOR FULL STORY.

Among endangered species of amphibians, “75 percent are susceptible to climate change while 41 percent of non-threatened species are susceptible as well.” (From study by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as reported in The Economic Times of India.)

The math is astounding, staggering, sobering, disheartening, and maddening, but we need to react with determination, anger, confidence, and donations to Amphibian Ark. More details are coming out on IUCN’s announcement of the major threats facing all animal life. I just posted about the fact that one in four mammals being threatened. Well, now we learn that MORE THAN TWO IN FOUR AMPHIBIANS ARE BEING HARMED BY GLOBAL WARMING. That fits hand-in-glove with the studies showing that up to half of all amphibian species are hopping toward extinction. Here’s an excerpt from the write-up on peopleandplanet.net:

The study found 3,217 of the 6,222 amphibians in the world are likely to be susceptible to climate change. Three salamander families are could be particularly susceptible, while 80-100 percent of Seychelles frogs and Indian Burrowing Frogs, Australian ground frogs, horned toads and glassfrog families were assessed as susceptible.

The African elephant has been “upgraded” to “near threatened from the bleaker “vulnerable” list. And that’s about the rosiest take from the World Conservation Congress in Barcelona, where the annual Red List oof Endangered Species was announced. The grabber this year is that one in four mammals is threatened due to habitat loss, hunting, and global warming.

The Congress also issued the reminder of why 2008 has been called the Year of the Frog and why Amphibian Ark was created: at least one-third (most say up to one-half) of amphibian species could go extinct in our lifetime unless emergency measures are taken. Here’s the excerpt from The New York Times:

“Although 5 percent of mammals are recovering, what we observe are rates of habitat loss and hunting in Southeast Asia, Central Africa and Central and South America that are so serious that the overall rate of decline has steadily increased during the past decade,” Mr. Schipper said.

Amphibians, too, are facing an extinction crisis, with at least 33 percent either threatened or extinct, the I.U.C.N. reported.

Holdridge’s toad, found only in Costa Rica, was declared extinct. The Cuban crocodile, illegally hunted for its meat and skin, was moved to the critically endangered category.

Making the list for the first time were Indian tarantulas, highly prized by collectors and threatened by the international pet trade. The Rameshwaram parachute spider, whose habitat has been eroded by new roads, was found to be critically endangered. The spiders’ “natural habitat has been almost completely destroyed,” the group said.

Not every part of the report was bleak. The African elephant was removed from the vulnerable list and was listed as “near threatened,” although its status varied depending on location. The I.U.C.N. said increases in the population of the elephants in southern and eastern Africa were big enough to offset any decreases taking place elsewhere.

Have been holding onto this article from Planet 2025 News Network for awhile. Seems like a good day to share it. IUCN, by the way, is a key supporter of Amphibian Ark.

The business case for conserving nature is strong and getting stronger, according to a new report published today by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) and Shell International Limited.

The report calls for policy reforms to increase the commercial rewards for conserving biodiversity, increased penalties for biodiversity loss and better information on the biodiversity performance of business. A key challenge facing all biodiversity businesses is the lack of accepted indicators to measure positive and negative contributions to biodiversity conservation.As the world wakes up to the accelerating loss of biological diversity, businesses are increasingly viewing biodiversity conservation as a potential profit centre, says the report, Building Biodiversity Business.”There are numerous pro-biodiversity business opportunities that can generate significant profits as well as benefits for nature,” says Dr Joshua Bishop, IUCN’s Senior Advisor on Economics and the Environment. “But a few inspiring examples aren’t enough. This report shows how to achieve a major increase in business investment in biodiversity conservation, by linking policy reforms, technical assistance and innovative financing tools.”Ecotourism is one example of how money can be made from looking after species and their habitats. Environmentally-friendly tourism is expanding at a rate of 20-30 percent annually, compared with 9 percent for tourism as a whole.

Many other businesses, historically responsible for the loss of biodiversity, are starting to lead the way by protecting biodiversity. Markets for organic agriculture and sustainably-harvested timber are growing at double-digit rates. Another major area of growth is the demand for climate mitigation services, such as the protection of forests and wetlands to absorb carbon dioxide.

Bio-prospecting, the search for new compounds, genes and organisms in the wild, is also a biodiversity business on the rise. Some suggest the sector could be worth as much as US$500 million by 2050.

“For businesses to conserve biodiversity it must ultimately become more profitable to protect nature and use natural resources sustainably, rather than ignore or destroy it,” says Sachin Kapila, Group Biodiversity Adviser at Shell International Limited.

Source: iNSnet