Scientists Launch Amphibian Ark to Stave Off Frog Extinctions

If zoos, botanical gardens and aquariums take action now, they may be able to halt a worldwide frog extinction.© U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Scientists from around the world met last week in Atlanta to kick off the ambitious Amphibian Ark project, a global campaign to protect the world’s vanishing amphibian species from a series of environmental dangers, including a ravenous killer fungus, widespread habitat loss, exposure to pollution and global warming. Project organizers are asking zoos, botanical gardens and aquariums around the world to each take in at least 500 frogs from a threatened local species to protect them from the killer fungus, chytrid, which has circled the globe on the back of one particular African frog species.

Scientists estimate that as many as 170 different species of frogs have gone extinct in the past decade from the fungus and other causes, and an additional 1,900 amphibian species are at immediate risk. Combined environmental threats could wipe out as many as a third of all of the world’s frog species.

As in the biblical fable of Noah’s Ark that the project is named after, the Amphibian Ark is viewed by its creators as a stopgap measure to protect what’s left of amphibian biodiversity before it’s too late. According to the scientists behind the Amphibian Ark, the project buys them time by preventing more species from going extinct while researchers figure out how to stop the spread of chytrid and protect amphibians from other environmental ills.

Sources: Amphibian Ark; Science Daily