Global Warming Driving Widespread Amphibian Extinctions by Triggering Epidemic Disease
New Study in Nature Documents the Climate-Disease Link (1.12.06)
A new study published today in the journal Nature provides the first clear proof that global warming is causing the outbreaks of infectious disease that are wiping out entire frog populations, driving many species to extinction.
The study reveals precisely how the warming may alter the dynamics of a fatal disease of amphibians caused by a fungus that grows on their skin. Because of this climate-driven "chytrid" disease, hundreds of species around the world are near extinction or have already disappeared.
"Disease is the bullet killing frogs, but climate change is pulling the trigger," said J. Alan Pounds, the studyís lead author and Resident Scientist at the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve in Costa Rica. "Global warming is wreaking havoc on amphibians, and will cause staggering losses of biodiversity if we donít do something fast."
The study is the fruit of interdisciplinary teamwork facilitated by the Tropical Science Center, the non-profit scientific and educational organization that operates the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve, and RANA, the Research and Analysis Network for Neotropical Amphibians. Scientists from nine Latin American countries collaborating through RANA developed the new database of harlequin frog observations used in the study. Funded by the National Science Foundation and coordinated by NatureServe, RANA promotes research on amphibian declines by bridging international barriers to scientific collaboration.