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USGS: Amphibians in rapid decline across the U.S.

Even species that are considered "stable" appear to be declining
Even species that are considered "stable" appear to be declining

Staff writers

May 25, 2013 — In the first study of its kind, USGS researchers have found that frogs, toads and salamanders are disappearing from their habitats in the U.S. at an "alarming" rate. The study, which was released earlier this week in PLOS One suggests that most amphibian species, even those considered to be "stable" in numbers, are declining. This trend appears to be consistent throughout the United States.

"Amphibians have been a constant presence in our planet's ponds, streams, lakes and rivers for 350 million years or so, surviving countless changes that caused many other groups of animals to go extinct," said USGS Director Suzette Kimball in a statement.

"This is why the findings of this study are so noteworthy; they demonstrate that the pressures amphibians now face exceed the ability of many of these survivors to cope."

According to the study, amphibian populations appear to be declining at a rate of about 3.7 percent per year. Species are considered endangered or threatened appear to be vanishing at a rate of 11.6 percent each year.

"Even though these declines seem small on the surface, they are not," said USGS ecologist and lead author Michael Adams.

"Small numbers build up to dramatic declines with time. We knew there was a big problem with amphibians, but these numbers are both surprising and of significant concern." 

Researchers examined 48 species over a period of 9 years.

While the study did not examine the cause of the decline, disease, invasive species and habitat loss have been named as contributors.

Researchers hope the findings will allow for better tracking of amphibian populations, with a view towards preserving species and their natural habitat.

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