A new study by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) says that frogs, toads and salamanders are in severe decline, knocking off at a rate of 3.7 percent a year. The news is worse for amphibians already listed as endangered species. They could become extinct in just six years.
Even in areas that are considered “pristine” and protected, the amphibian decline is pronounced, indicating that current environmental protections may not be enough.
A study published by Oregon State University researches the amphibian decline and includes a long list of factors, including “natural forces such as competition, predation, reproduction and disease, as well as human-induced stresses such as habitat destruction, environmental contamination, invasive species and climate change.”
Biologists believe that amphibian sensitivity to environmental changes is partly due to their permeable skin. The skin makes them susceptible to environmental problems both on land and in water, essentially doubling their exposure to any environmental stress.
Amphibians aren’t the only animals caught on a downward slide. Snakes, mammals and birds are also on the list.
Biologists fear that losses of animal species will deeply and negatively impact the ecosystem. For example, amphibians offer great pest control in addition to being the ideal meal for certain predators. Their absence from the food chain could have profound ecological effects.