Amphibian Decline


Amphibians are susceptible to changes to both aquatic and terrestrial habitats caused by human activities. Amphibians are declining throughout the world and 32% of species are threatened with extinction. Most disturbingly, many declines, and some extinctions, have occurred in locations where they are supposedly protected. Habitat destruction is the most significant cause of amphibian declines, but other factors, including ultraviolet radiation, contamination by agricultural and industrial chemicals, climate change, introduced predators and overexploitation also play an important role. The most dramatic declines and extinctions have been caused by a fungal disease, chytridiomycosis, which has recently become globally distributed.

Keywords: acidification; amphibian; chemical contaminants; climate change; deformities; disease; endocrine disruptors; extinction; globalization; habitat destruction; introduced species; pollution; population decline; ultraviolet radiation

Further Reading

Alford RA and Richards SJ (1999) Global amphibian declines: a problem in applied ecology. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 30: 133–165.

Beebee TJC and Griffiths RA (2007) The amphibian decline crisis: a watershed for conservation biology? Biological Conservation 125: 271–285.

Blaustein AR and Kiesecker JM (2002) Complexity in conservation: lessons from the global decline of amphibian populations. Ecology Letters 5: 597–608.

Gardner TA, Barlow J and Peres PA (2007) Paradox, presumption and pitfalls in conservation biology: the importance of habitat change for amphibians and reptiles. Biological Conservation 138: 166–179.

Kiesecker JM, Blaustein AR and Belden LK (2001) Complex causes of amphibian population declines. Nature 410: 681–684.

Lannoo M (2005) Amphibian Declines: The Conservation Status of United State Species. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Stuart S, Chanson JS, Cox NA et al. (2004) Status and trends of amphibian declines and extinctions worldwide. Science 306: 1783–1786.

Web Links

AmphibiaWeb provides continually updated information on amphibian species and on amphibian declines –

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How to Cite close
Halliday, Tim(Mar 2008) Amphibian Decline. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0020486]