Half of Europe’s amphibians may disappear, warn experts

MORE than half of Europe’s frog, toad and newt species could be wiped out by mid-century, scientists warned yesterday.

Amphibians across the world are at risk of extinction as a result of climate change, habitat destruction and disease, according to the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).

At a lecture at London Zoo, ZSL research fellow Dr Trent Garner warned that species such as the common toad were among those increasingly under threat. He said a recent study showed warmer winter temperatures were affecting the hibernation of toads, who would normally slow their physiology in the cold weather.

With less cold winters, toads were using up more of their reserves and emerging from hibernation in a poor condition.

Female toad survival rates were dropping and they were producing fewer eggs, Dr Garner warned.

He said, globally, “the number one threat has been and will be habitat loss and there’s also threats from pollution and introduction of new species”.

He went on: “There’s now evidence coming out that climate change is having or will have a strong impact, while the other thing that is a problem is infectious disease.”

He said climate change altered the conditions in the habitats on which species relied to survive, and many specialist amphibians, or those with limited ranges such as islands, were unable to adapt or move in response.

There are more than 80 species of amphibian in Europe, a large proportion of which are found around the Mediterranean basin.

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