A new study finds that frogs, toads, salamanders and other amphibians in the U.S. are dying off so quickly that they could disappear from half of their habitats in the next 20 years. For some of the more endangered species, they could lose half of their habitats in as little as six years. The nine-year study, published on May 22 in PLoS One by scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), examined population trends for 48 species at 34 sites across the country. The researchers found that on average amphibian populations were shrinking a surprising 3.7 percent per year. "Even though these declines seem small on the surface, they are not," lead author Michael Adams, a USGS ecologist, said in a prepared release. "Small numbers build up to dramatic declines with time. We knew there was a big problem with amphibians, but these numbers are both surprising and of significant concern."
Worse yet, the scientists found that species currently classified as "endangered," "vulnerable" or "near threatened" on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species were declining much faster, at an average of 11.6 percent. Species listed as "least concern" on the Red List were declining at a slightly slower-than-average rate of just 2.7 percent.
Source: Scientific American, May 23, 2013