Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Climate change drives widespread amphibian extinctions

13.01.2006


Warmer temperatures enhance growth conditions of fatal fungus



Results of a new study provide the first clear proof that global warming is causing outbreaks of an infectious disease that is wiping out entire frog populations and driving many species to extinction.

Published in the Jan. 12 issue of the journal Nature, the study reveals how the warming may alter the dynamics of a skin fungus that is fatal to amphibians. The climate-driven fungal disease, the author’s say, has hundreds of species around the world teetering on the brink of extinction or has already pushed them into the abyss.


"Disease is the bullet that’s killing the frogs," said J. Alan Pounds, the study’s lead scientist affiliated with the Tropical Science Center’s Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve in Costa Rica. "But climate change is pulling the trigger. Global warming is wreaking havoc on amphibians, and soon will cause staggering losses of biodiversity," he said.

"The good news, if there is any, is the new findings will open up avenues of research that could provide scientists with the means to save the amphibians that still survive," said Bruce Young, a zoologist at NatureServe who took part in the study. "If this cloud has any silver lining, that’s it."

The new theory for the frogs’ decline "leaps over a major roadblock in our understanding," said Sam Scheiner, program director for the National Science Foundation (NSF)’s ecology of infectious diseases program, which funded the research. "This study demonstrates the complex nature of global climate change, including how climate affects the spread of disease, and why these must be integrated if we are to understand and reduce threats to species extinctions."

But the message goes beyond amphibians, says Scheiner: global warming and the accompanying emergence of infectious diseases are a real and immediate threat to biodiversity and a growing challenge for humankind.

The decline of amphibians in apparently pristine, protected habitats in Costa Rica and elsewhere has perplexed conservation biologists since 1990, when the problem was first recognized. At least 110 species of brightly colored harlequin frogs once lived near streams in the tropics of Central and South America, but about two-thirds vanished in the 1980s and 1990s.

In the famed Costa Rican cloud forests, for example, the Monteverde harlequin frog disappeared in the late 1980s, as did the golden toad, whose much-publicized extinction, said Pounds, "was the first sign of this emerging threat to species survival."

Using records of sea-surface and air temperatures, Pounds and colleagues show that harlequin frogs are disappearing in near lockstep with changing climate. According to the scientists, the Earth’s rising temperatures enhance cloud cover on tropical mountains, leading to cooler days and warmer nights, both of which favor the chytrid fungus. The organism grows and reproduces best at temperatures between 63 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit (17 to 25 degrees centigrade).

The fungus kills frogs mostly in cool highlands or during winter, implying that low temperatures make it more deadly. So the idea that it flourishes in warm years, which the evidence now supports, is new.

The study results come at a time of growing concern about the future of amphibians. The Global Amphibian Assessment, published in 2004, found that nearly one-third of the world’s 6,000 or so species of frogs, toads and salamanders face extinction--a figure far greater than that for any other group of animals.

Cheryl Dybas | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nsf.gov
http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/
http://www.nsf.gov/news/

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

nachricht Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

Im Focus: Quantum-physical Model System

Computer-assisted methods aid Heidelberg physicists in reproducing experiment with ultracold atoms

Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...

Im Focus: Glacier bacteria’s contribution to carbon cycling

Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.

A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Fraunhofer HHI with latest VR technologies at NAB in Las Vegas

24.04.2017 | Trade Fair News

New quantum liquid crystals may play role in future of computers

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A promising target for kidney fibrosis

21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>