Dear EarthTalk: Are the world’s amphibians still in decline and what’s being done to help them? -- Chris W., Stamford, CT
Unfortunately yes, amphibians are still in serious trouble around the world. A recently updated worldwide population assessment by the non-profit International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) found that 32 percent of the 6,000-plus amphibian species left on the planet have declined to dangerously low levels—and qualify for vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered status on the group’s “Red List” of at-risk wildlife.
Perhaps even more disturbing is that upwards of 160 amphibian species—some of which have been around for hundreds of millions of years—have gone extinct just in the last 25 years. Since amphibian species are particularly sensitive to environmental change, they are often the first animals to decline in areas just beginning to experience environmental degradation, and as such are considered to be important indicators of the health of the wider ecosystems surrounding them.