Two in five amphibian species are at risk of extinction — and climate change is in large part to blame, a new study says.
A new study published in in the scientific journal Nature on Wednesday found that out of the 8,011 species evaluated, 2,873, or 40.7%, are globally threatened, making amphibians the most threatened vertebrate class on Earth.
“There is a growing proportion of species being pushed to the brink of extinction by disease and the effects of climate change,” Jennifer Luedtke, one of the lead authors of the study and manager of species partnerships at Re:wild, told The Washington Post.
This is the second Global Amphibian Assessment for the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species. The first report was published in 2004.
What has changed since 2004?
The 2004 report found that disease was the leading cause of amphibian species moving to more-threatened Red List categories.
Now, nearly 20 years later, climate change is the leading cause, followed closely by habitat loss.
“Climate change effects are the most common primary driver of status deteriorations during 2004–2022, with 119 species (39%) affected compared with six species (1%) during 1980–2004,” the study reads.
“To survive in the face of this rapidly changing climate here on Earth, amphibians must adapt to these changes or move elsewhere,” Kelsey Neam, a lead author of the study and species and metrics coordinator for Re:wild, told NBC News. “In many of these cases, changes are happening too quickly for them to adapt, and habitat fragmentation is creating barriers that make moving around extremely challenging.”
The updated reported also analyzed over 2,000 more species than the previous report.
Meanwhile, four amphibian species have been declared extinct since 2004: The Chiriqui harlequin frog (Atelopus chiriquiensis), the sharp-snouted day frog (Taudactylus acutirostris), the wry lip brittle-belly frog (Craugastor myllomyllon) and the Jalpa false brook salamander (Pseudoeurycea exspectata).
Some species are bouncing back
There is some good news, though. The study also found that 120 species have shown improvements in status, moving to less-threatened statuses.
Conservation actions — such as habitat protection and management — are responsible for over half (63) of those improvements.
However, the majority of status changes on the Red List of Threatened Species are deteriorations.
“Although signs of species recoveries incentivize immediate conservation action, scaled-up investment is urgently needed to reverse the current trends,” the study states.