Threatened frogs palmed off as forests disappear

Jun 03, 2013

Oil palm plantations in Malaysia are causing threatened forest frogs to disappear, paving the way for common species to move in on their turf, scientists have revealed.

The study, carried out by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) describes how forests converted to palm oil plantations are causing threatened dwelling frogs to vanish, resulting in an overall loss of habitat that is important for the conservation of threatened in the region.

Scientists travelled to where they spent two years studying communities of frog in four and two areas of adjacent forest. The paper is published in the journal Conservation Biology.

Aisyah Faruk, PhD student at ZSL's Institute of Zoology says: "The impact we observed is different from that observed previously for mammals and birds. Instead of reducing the number of species, oil palm affects amphibian communities by replacing habitat suitable for threatened species with habitat used by that are not important for conservation. This more subtle effect is still equally devastating for the conservation of biodiversity in Malaysia."

Amphibians are the most threatened in the world, with over 40% at risk of extinction. The peat swamp frog (Limnonectes malesianus) is just one of the declining species threatened due to deforestation. It inhabits shallow, gentle streams, swampy areas, and very flat forests, laying eggs in sandy streambeds. Scientists only found this species in forest areas, and if palm oil plantations continue to take over, the peat swamp frog, along with its forest home, could be a thing of the past.

ZSL's Dr. Trent Garner, a co-author on the paper, says: "Existing practices in managing oil palm are not accommodating the highly threatened forest frog species in Malaysia which urgently need saving."

The planting of oil palm plantations leads to the loss of natural forests and peat lands and plays havoc with ecosystems and biodiversity. ZSL, together with collaborators from Queen Mary University of London, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and University of Malaya, continues to work closely with Malaysian palm oil producers in determining if simple modifications to agricultural practices may bring some of the forest species back into areas planted with oil palm and allow them to survive and reproduce in plantations.

Explore further: Stanford researchers rethink 'natural' habitat for wildlife

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Rare bat found in oil palm plantation's oasis

Nov 08, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- The discovery of a rare bat species in a tiny fragment of rainforest surrounded by an oil palm plantation has demonstrated that even small areas of forest are worth saving.

Biofuels and biodiversity don't mix, ecologists warn

Jul 09, 2008

Rising demand for palm oil will decimate biodiversity unless producers and politicians can work together to preserve as much remaining natural forest as possible, ecologists have warned. A new study of the potential ecological ...

Recommended for you

Plants with dormant seeds give rise to more species

Apr 18, 2014

Seeds that sprout as soon as they're planted may be good news for a garden. But wild plants need to be more careful. In the wild, a plant whose seeds sprouted at the first warm spell or rainy day would risk disaster. More ...

Scientists tether lionfish to Cayman reefs

Apr 18, 2014

Research done by U.S. scientists in the Cayman Islands suggests that native predators can be trained to gobble up invasive lionfish that colonize regional reefs and voraciously prey on juvenile marine creatures.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.

Low tolerance for pain? The reason may be in your genes

Researchers may have identified key genes linked to why some people have a higher tolerance for pain than others, according to a study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 66th Annual ...

How to keep your fitness goals on track

(HealthDay)—The New Year's resolutions many made to get fit have stalled by now. And one expert thinks that's because many people set their goals too high.