Thursday, 9 August 2012

3000 new species of amphibians discovered in 25 years - via Herp Digest, July 31, 2012

The number of amphibians described by scientists now exceeds 7,000, or roughly 3,000 more than were known just 25 years ago, report researchers in Berkeley. 

David Wake, an emeritus biology professor at the University of California, this week announced the 7,000th amphibian cataloged on AmphibiaWeb, a project which since 2000 has sought to document every one of Earth's living frogs, salamanders, newts, and caecilians. The 3,000 'new' species means that scientists have described a previously unknown amphibian every two-and-a-half days since 1987. And the rate of new species descriptions may be accelerating: 100 species have been described so far in 2012. 

The 7000th amphibian added to AmphibiaWeb was Centrolene sabini, a glass frog from Manu National Park in the Peruvian Amazon. Photo by Alessandro Catenazzi, the researcher who was the lead author of the paper that described the species.
But the discoveries mask bad news: global amphibian populations are in sharp decline due to the effects of climate change, habitat destruction, pollution, invasive species, overharvesting as food and for the pet trade, and the spread of chytridiomycosis, a deadly fungal disease. The IUCN Red List estimates that more than 40 percent of amphibians are at risk, while more than 150 species are known to have gone extinct since the early 1980s. 

AmphibiaWeb documents the known status of each and every species. Beyond photos, maps, and information, the site also collects audio clips of frog calls. Wake said AmphibiaWeb had become the global authority for amphibian information. 

“We are the place for accurate, vetted information on amphibians,” he said in a statement, noting the site is queried 15,000 and 20,000 times per day. 

CITATION: Catenazzi, A., Von May, R., Lehr, E., Gagliardi-Urrutia, G., Guayasamin, J.M. (2012). ''A new, high-elevation glassfrog (Anura: Centrolenidae) from Manu National Park, southern Peru.'' Zootaxa, 3388, 56-68. 

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