Tag: species extinction

Biodiversity: Amphibians ‘not evolving fast enough’

New study finds wide array of causes for sudden extinction wave

The Panamanian golden frog (Atelopus zeteki) is a critically endangered toad which is endemic to Panama. PHOTO BY BRIAN GRATWICKE VIA THE CREATIVE COMMONS.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The alarming global decline of amphibian species is probably caused by a number of factors rather than any single cause. Natural factors include competition, predation, reproduction and disease.

Man-made factors include habitat destruction, environmental contamination, invasive species and climate change, according to an international team of researchers who recently published findings from a comprehensive amphibian study in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.

“An enormous rate of change has occurred in the last 100 years, and amphibians are not evolving fast enough to keep up with it,” said Andrew Blaustein, a professor of zoology at Oregon State University and an international leader in the study of amphibian declines. “We’re now realizing that it’s not just one thing, it’s a whole range of things. With a permeable skin and exposure to both aquatic and terrestrial problems, amphibians face a double whammy,” he said. “Because of this, mammals, fish and birds have not experienced population impacts as severely as amphibians – at least, not yet.” Continue reading “Biodiversity: Amphibians ‘not evolving fast enough’”

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The cost of extinction

Endangered whooping cranes have been fighting off extinction for the last 50 years. They haven't been seen in Colorado since 2002. PHOTO COURTESY THE COLORADO DIVISION OF WILDLIFE.

Ecosystem values must be factored into global economy; loss of biodiversity could cost trillions of dollars

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Species conservation isn’t just about feel-good efforts to save animals because they’re cute and cuddly.

Allowing the current rate of  of biodiversity loss to continue could cost the global economy untold trillions, said researchers who are compiling a comprehensive report on the cost of species loss. The report will be published in time for the October Convention on Biodiversity in Japan, part of the UN’s International Year of Biodiversity.

Using the best science available, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature estimates that 20 percent of all mammals, one-third of all amphibians and one in seven bird species are at risk of extinction. For the first time since the era of dinosaurs, animals and plants are going extinct faster than new species can evolve. Continue reading “The cost of extinction”

Global warming: Lizards are feeling the heat

Caption: Species diversity has yet to be explored for many lizard groups of the world, as exemplified by this unnamed Liolaemus species from Bolivia. Many species could disappear before they are formally described. PHOTO BY IGNACIO DE LA RIVA.

Researchers use Web 2.0 tools like Google Earth to pinpoint lizard extinctions around the world


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By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — As cold-blooded creatures that are especially sensitive to temperature, the world’s lizards are feeling the heat from global warming.

Recent research by a team of international scientists shows that climate change has already resulted in the extinction of 12 percent of Mexico’s lizard populations to extinction. Looking ahead, the studies suggest that 20 percent of the world’s lizard species may go extinct by 2080.

Lizards play an important ecological role by helping to keep insect populations in check.

The findings are based on a detailed survey of lizard population in Mexico, with data collected at 200 sites showing that temperatures in those regions have changed too rapidly for the lizards to keep pace. Many lizards are already living t the edge of their thermal limits, especially at low elevation and low-latitude range limits, making them far more susceptible to climate-warming extinction than previously thought. Continue reading “Global warming: Lizards are feeling the heat”