Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Climate change drives widespread amphibian extinctions


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:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg

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: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

Fluorescent holography: Upending the world of biological imaging

25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Etching Microstructures with Lasers

25.10.2016 | Process Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>