Warming Kicks Frogs While They’re Down

As if frogs and other amphibians around the world didn’t have enough to worry about with a killer fungus spreading rapidly and humans encroaching on their habitats, now global warming seems to be affecting one of the few pristine habitats the frogs have left, a new study suggests.

Credit: Steven M. Whitfield

Credit: Steven M. Whitfield

More than one third of amphibian species in the world today are threatened, and it is estimated that more than 120 species have disappeared since 1980.

A lack of long-term data on frog populations has made it difficult to determine the causes of these declines, especially in areas far from the effects of humans.

Scientists know a pathogen called a chytrid fungus is causing an infection in the skin of frogs in epidemic proportions in cool, high-altitude areas, preventing their skin from taking in enough water and causing them to die of dehydration.

But the fungus fails to explain all of the decline in frog numbers in warmer, low-altitude environments where it cannot thrive as well, so a group of scientists decided to investigate at La Selva Biological Station, a pristine lowland forest in Costa Rica.

Full story Live Science

Kirtland Peterson

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