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Major initiative proposed to address amphibian crisis

Fifty of the leading amphibian researchers in the world have called for a new Amphibian Survival Alliance, a $400 million initiative to help reduce and prevent amphibian declines and extinctions, an ecological crisis of growing proportion that is continuing to get worse. In a policy statement to be published Friday in the journal Science, the scientists say that 32 percent of all amphibian species are threatened and at least nine ?perhaps as high as 122 ?have become extinct since 1980. It's time, they say, for a more organized and effective approach to address the various diseases, habitat loss, invading species and other causes of this problem.

"This is part of an overall biodiversity crisis, and amphibians seem to have been hit the hardest of all vertebrate species," said Andrew Blaustein, a professor of zoology at Oregon State University and one of the pioneers in this field, who first helped document amphibian declines almost 20 years ago.

"These are bioindicators that something is wrong with the planet," he said. "But amphibians play a major role in many ecosystems, in some places the amphibian biomass is greater than that of all the other vertebrates. The long term ecological repercussions of their decline could be profound, and we have to do something about it."

Programs of research, training, monitoring, salvage operations, disease management, captive breeding, and other efforts are envisioned under the new initiative, which may include a global network of centers for amphibian recovery and protection. Support from individuals, government agencies, foundations, and the conservation community will be sought, the researchers said in their report.

Amphibians have been around for more than 300 million years, thriving before the dinosaurs and living long after they and many other species had disappeared. Their dramatic decline and extinctions now has alarmed many researchers since it first became apparent in the past two dec
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Source:Oregon State University


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