Jan 7, 2009

Endangered Species - Amphibians

Endangered Species
Conservation biologists tend to think of amphibians as environmental "canaries in the coal mine." When an ecosystem begins to tip out of balance, amphibians are generally the first to be affected. When frogs and salamanders begin to die en masse, it means that widescale ecological devastation may be under way.
More amphibian species are under threat than any single animal group, a wopping 1,811 species according to the IUCN. This accounts for around 31 percent of all known amphibians. Habitat loss and pollution appear to be the major causes.

Endangered Amphibians

The blue-sided tree frog has golden eyes, a green-blue back, blue sides and a pinkish underbelly. It has long slender limbs and suction toes that enable it to jump easily from branch to branch within the forest canopy. It is found in the moist tropical and subtropical regions of Costa Rica but its numbers are in rapid decline due to pollution, loss of habitat and collection by humans.

IUCN Status: Endangered
Major Threats: Pollution, loss of habitat and collection by humans
Habitat: Premontane moist and wet forests, as well as rain forests
Location: Costa Rica
Diet: A variety of arthropods

The corroboree frog is a black frog with bright yellow stripes found only in a narrow region of moss-covered bogs in the high-altitude forest of New South Wales, Australia. Unlike many brightly colored frogs, the corroboree does not have toxic skin. It was once abundant, but a rapid decline in population over the past 10 years has made it one of the world's most endangered frogs.

IUCN Status: Critically Endangered
Major Threat: Habitat destruction and predation by feral animals
Habitat: Moss-covered bogs in high altitude forest
Location: New South Wales, Australia
Diet: Mainly small invertebrates, including ants, beetles and insect larvae

The golden poison frog is found in the moist mountain forests of the Colombian Andes. Its gold coloration is a warning to predators that this species is poisonous. It is a small frog, with adults typically being less than 2 inches long. This species has a very restricted range and its habitat continues to disappear to logging and agricultural interests.

IUCN Status: Endangered
Major Threat: Habitat loss due to logging and agricultural interests
Habitat: Very moist, humid mountain rain forest
Location: Colombian Andes
Diet: Insects, including ants, beetles and termites

The aptly named Goliath frog is the world's largest frog species. Adults may weigh more than seven pounds and grow to be more than a foot long. They live in fast-moving rivers and streams in the rain forests of West Africa. Their range is quite small and their populations are in rapid decline because of hunting and being captured by private collectors of exotic species.

IUCN Status: Endangered
Major Threats: Habitat destruction and collection for the pet trade
Habitat: Swiftly flowing rivers in dense rain forests
Location: West Africa
Diet: Insects, crustaceans, fish and other amphibians

The Panamanian golden frog is a bright yellow or orange amphibian with black markings and long limbs. It provides the classic example of warning coloration — its skin is highly toxic. It lives in the rain forests of Panama, but its numbers have declined dramatically in recent years due to habitat loss, hunting, pollution and disease.

IUCN Status: Critically Endangered
Major Threats: Habitat loss, hunting, pollution and disease
Habitat: Tropical rain forest
Location: Panama
Diet: Small invertebrates

A toad is an amphibian with a large, wide head; front limbs that are much smaller than the back limbs; a large mouth; and large protruding eyes. The western leopard toad is the largest South African toad. It has large brown patches on a greenish body and a vertical yellow stripe down its back. Its numbers are in decline due to loss of habitat and because of frequent collisions with vehicles.

IUCN Status: Endangered
Major Threats: Habitat loss and frequent collisions with vehicles
Habitat: Large wetlands, rivers, perennial ponds and other low-lying areas
Location: Western Cape province of South Africa
Diet: Insects and other invertebrates


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