Nearly one-third of the 6,485 species are now on the brink of extinction. Since 1979, close to 200 species have disappeared forever, victims of an amphibious assault that continues to decimate entire populations and ecosystems.
Habitat destruction, invasive species, pathogens, climate change, over-harvesting for the pet and food trade, and pollution and pesticides are all contributing factors. However, a fungus called chytrid seems to be a major cause and to date, scientists have been unable to stop it from spreading.
Amphibians are both vital predators and prey in the structure of many ecosystems. Due to their position in the middle of the food chain, their decline affects both the species that depend on them for food, and the insect populations they control.
Entire ecosystems are slowly unraveling as frog calls are replaced by silence, and the species who depend on them begin to disappear too.
In May 2008, SAVE THE FROGS! was founded by Ecologist, Dr. Kerry Kriger. Comprised of a team of international scientists, educators, policymakers, and naturalists, STF is America’s only nonprofit organization dedicated to amphibian conservation.
Their goal is to prevent extinction of the world’s frogs, toads, newts, salamanders, and caecilians through environmental education, legal defense, land acquisitions, lobbying for necessary environmental protections that currently do not exist, and conducting and funding scientific research.
You can connect with them via their website or Facebook page. Their website is a great resource of facts, photos, contests, and ways you can help. While you’re there, sign up for their free newsletter and stop by The FrogBlog for frequent updates on all things amphibious.
The 2009 50-minute PBS Documentary, Frogs: The Thin Green Line, takes a candid look at what’s being called “the greatest mass extinction since the dinosaurs.” In a web-exclusive video, filmmaker, Allison Argo discusses the making of the documentary and calls the disappearance of the worlds frogs, “probably the most important environmental story of our time.”
According to the film, “frogs may seem small and insignificant, but their bodies may hold the key to future medical miracles” particularly as it relates to pain management, the prevention of infections, and HIV treatments.
Medical miracles or no, a world without frogs will be a much smaller, sterile, and silent place.
“Many people ask ‘what does it matter if we lose a species?’ Only one species, Homo sapiens, has the capacity to eliminate other species on the planet. Unique among the animal world, we are accountable for our actions and future generations will hold us responsible. The question we should be asking ourselves is: “how can we justify eliminating even a single species from this planet?” -Dr. Jean-Marc Hero