Saving frogs before it's too late

May 06, 2008

With nearly one-third of amphibian species threatened with extinction worldwide, fueled in part by the widespread emergence of the deadly chytrid fungus, effective conservation efforts could not be more urgent. In a new article in the open-access journal PLoS Biology, Franco Andreone and his colleagues argue that one of the best places to focus these efforts is Madagascar, a global hotspot of amphibian diversity that shows no signs of amphibian declines—or traces of the chytrid fungus.

Protecting this amphibian treasure trove before it’s too late, the authors argue, makes Madagascar a top priority for amphibian conservation efforts. “In Madagascar,” the authors argue, “amphibian conservation efforts have the possibility of being pro-active, rather than reactive, or simply post-mortem.”

Madagascar harbors “one of the richest groups of amphibian fauna in the world,” write the authors, but this megadiversity faces significant threats. Ninety percent of the island’s original vegetation has been destroyed by human activity. Amazingly, despite the ongoing habitat destruction, no Malagasy amphibian species have been reported as extinct, though a quarter of the 220 species evaluated by the World Conservation Union are listed as threatened.

The conspicuous absence of the devastating chytrid fungus only serves to underscore the precariousness of the situation. Intensive conservation efforts here, the authors argue, could “avert an otherwise predictable catastrophic loss of biodiversity.”

Pro-active conservation programs in Madagascar are especially timely in light of the government’s stated commitment to protect its biodiversity. This political interest, sparked by a 2003 presidential announcement to triple the size of Madagascar’s network of protected areas, gave rise to multiple processes for developing conservation strategies, including the Madagascar Action Plan. All these efforts suggest very favorable conditions for protecting what the authors call “astonishing morphological and ecological diversity” in a country where intact amphibian diversity may still benefit from intensive pro-active conservation measures.

Ironically, Andreone and his colleagues argue, Madagascar’s pre-decline status could actually hinder timely conservation action. The authors urge the international conservation community to recognize the unique opportunity Madagascar presents for conserving global amphibian diversity by making the necessary investments to implement conservation initiatives. No one knows if or when the chytrid fungus may turn up on the island. The authors advocate “urgency rather than complacency” to preserve this sanctuary while we still can.

Citation: Andreone F, Carpenter AI, Cox N, du Preez L, Freeman K, et al. (2008) The challenge of conserving amphibian megadiversity in Madagascar. PLoS Biol 6(5): e118. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0060118

Source: Public Library of Science

Explore further: PacifiCorp Energy pleads guilty in bird deaths

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Fraud-proof credit cards possible with quantum physics

2 minutes ago

Credit card fraud and identify theft are serious problems for consumers and industries. Though corporations and individuals work to improve safeguards, it has become increasingly difficult to protect financial ...

People finding their 'waze' to once-hidden streets

19 hours ago

When the people whose houses hug the narrow warren of streets paralleling the busiest urban freeway in America began to see bumper-to-bumper traffic crawling by their homes a year or so ago, they were baffled.

Identity theft victims face months of hassle

19 hours ago

As soon as Mark Kim found out his personal information was compromised in a data breach at Target last year, the 36-year-old tech worker signed up for the retailer's free credit monitoring offer so he would ...

Observers slam 'lackluster' Lima climate deal

19 hours ago

A carbon-curbing deal struck in Lima on Sunday was a watered-down compromise where national intransigence threatened the goal of a pact to save Earth's climate system, green groups said.

Your info has been hacked. Now what do you do?

19 hours ago

Criminals stole personal information from tens of millions of Americans in data breaches this past year. Of those affected, one in three may become victims of identity theft, according to research firm Javelin. ...

New Bond script stolen in Sony hack

19 hours ago

An "early version" of the screenplay for the new James Bond film was the latest victim of a massive hacking attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment, its producers said in a statement on their website Sunday.

Recommended for you

A vegetarian carnivorous plant

17 hours ago

Carnivorous plants catch and digest tiny animals in order and derive benefits for their nutrition. Interestingly the trend towards vegetarianism seems to overcome carnivorous plants as well. The aquatic carnivorous bladderwort, ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.