Bats, Bees, Birds, Frogs & Fish Dying Everywhere, A Sign of Things to Come?

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Bats, Bees, Birds, Frogs & Fish Dying Everywhere, A Sign of Things to Come?

Post by  on Mon Jan 03, 2011 4:48 pm

All animals die eventually, but so many species in massive numbers all at the same time? WAKE UP we have a serious problem!

Link posted by "earthfil", a visitor to Bark Forum:
http://www.earthfiles.com/news.php?ID=1803&category=Environment







Could this be the cause of fish kills? http://floridagulfskywatch.blogspot.com/2011/03/red-alert-corexit-is-still-being.html

Amphibian Population Declines


Nearly one-third of the world's more than 6,800 species of
amphibians are threatened with extinction or are already extinct.
Habitat loss is the most obvious reason for population declines; if
forests are cut down and wetlands are filled in, the species depending
on those forests and wetlands vanish also.

However, amphibians have been experiencing catastrophic
population crashes around the world, often in remote, protected areas
and within a single year. The speed and magnitude of these catastrophic
declines are much more dramatic than those described for birds,
mammals, or reptiles.

The lungless salamander Bolitoglossa sima is under decline from habitat degradation and fragmentation.
The causes of these declines are numerous and complicated, and in any case might include habitat alteration, disease, climate change, pollution, collection by humans, or even a thinned ozone layer in our atmosphere. Sometimes the cause is obvious—over 95% deforestation of tropical dry forests where we work in western Ecuador being the glaringly clear reason for amphibian disappearance.

However, for many sudden amphibian population crashes around the
world, a virulent fungus may be responsible This fungal pathogen, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd),
causes the infectious disease chytridiomycosis (say it:
“kit-rid-ee-oh-my-coh-sis”!) in amphibians. Some observations in
Central America have shown that when the fungus moves into a new area,
the impact is dire: more than 50% of the local amphibian species are
completely locally extinct within 6 months, and the remaining species
persist at only 20% of their former population levels.

Dead frogs such as this Mexican leaf frog (Pachymedusa dacnicolor)
are a common site where chytrid fungus has infected frogs. The parasite
kills frogs by blocking their skin from transporting vital nutrients.
Scientists are racing to understand more about this fungal disease, and what can be done to save amphibians. One part of Bd's
life cycle is aquatic, where swimming fungal spores attach and burrow
into the skin of their amphibian host. Although these spores infect
just the superficial layers of skin, amphibians rely on their skin for
breathing and for electrolyte transport. Once the fungal infection is
severe enough, the skin is no longer able to properly transport
electrolytes required for the heart to function and the animal dies.
However, not all amphibians are equally susceptible; a few species like
the American bullfrog appear to be quite resistant to Bd and may be acting as carriers. It is not yet known whether there are alternative hosts for Bd,
or exactly how it is transported in nature (other than by infected
amphibians). But, one thing we do know is that humans are moving
amphibians around and they are carrying disease with them as they go.


The Chiricahua leopard frog (Lithobates chirahuacuenesis)
has been under decline in many parts of its range due in part to the
introduction of American bullfrogs, which eat leopard frogs.

The American bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus),
once found in the eastern United States, has been introduced throughout
the western states as well as parts of south America, southeast Asia,
Europe, and the Caribbean, eating native species and spreading disease
along the way.
Why should we care about this tremendous loss of amphibian
biodiversity just within the past 30 years? Amazingly, amphibians may
help save the world from the depletion of fossil fuels; researchers
have recently designed a novel artificial photosynthesis system from a
protein in the foam nest of the túngara frog. The system can produce
up to 10 times more biofuel per hectare than plant-based systems do,
and can be used on rooftops and non-cultivatable land. For another,
amphibians produce many unique compounds in their skin that may have
medical relevance to humans. One such compound, epibatidine (derived
from a poison dart frog Epipedobates anthonyi), is an analgesic
200 times more potent than morphine. Every year, almost 200 new
species of amphibians are described, especially from poorly known
tropical areas. What we know about amphibians is just the tip of the
iceberg; how many species are being wiped out before scientists can
even describe them, let alone decipher what help they might be to
humans?

Amphibians are also key components in ecosystem food webs.
Amphibians are unique among vertebrates in that most species have
biphasic lifestyles (aquatic larvae and terrestrial adults), and thus
they serve as both predator and prey in aquatic as well as terrestrial
habitats. Tadpoles (larval frogs) play important roles in controlling
aquatic vegetation levels; streams that have lost tadpoles can become
choked with vegetation. Salamanders and frogs consume insect pests such
as springtails, mites, and mosquito larvae; a single mole salamander (Ambystoma talpoideum)
can eat up to about 900 mosquito larvae in a day. In some forests,
amphibians contribute the highest percentage of vertebrate biomass,
making them important prey items for many other species. Loss of
amphibians thus has a cascading impact on ecosystem food webs.

The golden poison frog, Phyllobates terribilis,
is one of the most toxic animals on earth. However, extracts from such
frogs can lead to life-saving medical treatments. It is threatened by
chemical spraying to eradicate drug crops in Colombia. Poison frogs are
also commonly collected from the wild for the pet industry, further
leading to population declines.
What we are doing: The Biodiversity Group seeks to document
and to help preserve this amazing diversity, both for the sake of
humankind and for amphibians themselves. All are interesting, whether
exquisite and colorful or shyly camouflaged, and all deserve your help.

What you can do:
First, don’t deal in amphibians. Buying amphibians,
particularly wild-caught ones not only deplete natural populations, but
can help move diseases and introduced species around. If you do want a
pet amphibian, make sure it is captive-bred.

Also, think about your resource use. The decisions you make
in your home can affect animals on the other side of the globe. For
instance, beef consumption encourages deforestation or cattle pasture,
as well as increase greenhouse gasses that lead to global warming.

Help us understand what is happening to amphibians. Take part in one of our research expeditions, photography workshops, or make a donation--all will help the fates of amphibians!

Text by Kellie Whittaker, University of California Berkeley


Join date : 1969-12-31

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