habitat

Group Co-Chairs: Guin Wogan and Johannes Penner

ASG Secretariat Lead Contact: Phil Bishop (pbishop[at]amphibians.org)

Vision

Amphibian habitats and populations sufficiently robust and adaptable to adapt to current and future climate change

Goal

All key amphibian habitats and populations restored or maintained to a healthy state, encompassing ecosystem diversity and adaptability, population dynamism and genetic diversity. Amphibian population management to be informed by adaptive models incorporating climate change and populations through close cooperation between amphibian researchers and modelling researchers.

Issues

Environmental changes affecting all regions the world and influence all organisms. Amphibians are one of the most sensitive groups to change, whether that is caused by habitat loss, invasive species, disease, trade or climate change. Nearly 33% of the amphibian species of the world are categorized as threatened on the Red List. Furthermore, given their complex life cycles and other traits, amphibians are often recognized as indicators of ecosystem health.

The vulnerability of tropical forests to climate variability and change has been highlighted (Condit 1998, IPPCC 2002, CBD 2003). However, these habitats are of particular importance for amphibian conservation due to the high amphibian diversity and also many endemic species they support. Other habitats may have an overall lower amphibian diversity but may be of global evolutionary significance, or regional or local importance for biodiversity. The continued delivery of many important ecosystem services is dependent upon the maintenance of biological diversity within these ecosystems. Thus, climate change impacts need to be considered for all ecosystems supporting amphibians.

At a habitat level actions are needed to maximize the resilience of natural systems, including ensuring habitat connectivity towards potential habitats suitable in the future (Julius and West 2008). Resilience is being compromised by climate change and uncertainty over future climate makes management plans difficult. Nevertheless, management needs to be flexible and diverse approaches will be required (Millar et al. 2007). The most immediate priority is to reduce short-term threats to achieve a vision of long-term adaptation (Perez et al 2005), in many cases the most immediate issue will be habitat alteration and fragmentation. Given the scale of the problems there is a need to prioritise species and ecosystems for conservation management. In addition certain overarching research issues need to be addressed before fully robust plans can be devised. Our ability to identify priorities and actions is limited by data availability on the precise climate change threats the diverse amphibian species face and on the most effective actions that can be taken. Data are needed on key habitats, sites and populations, on individual species vulnerabilities, the nature of present threats and on likely future threats. More complex issues also need to be investigated such as the synergies between threat factors, for example habitat alteration and fragmentation may reduce climate adaptability, or climate stress may be increasing amphibians’ susceptibility to disease. These are logical interactions but largely speculative at present.

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Current Priority Actions

The following are immediate priorities identified by the Climate Change Working Group. These actions are expected to change as progress is made in addressing the issues. Certain issues may not have been addressed in the current planning process and therefore some actions might be currently omitted from this list.

Major Constraints To Effective ConservationMid-term Priorities (1–5 years)Short-term Targets (6–12 months)
SCIENCE
We do not know which species of amphibian are most likely to be affected by climate changeIdentify climate change vulnerabilities:

i. Assess the climate change vulnerability of each amphibian species

ii. Develop global and regional lists of taxa threatened by climate change

iii. Identify Key Areas for Amphibians Conservation at regional level with local involvement in prioritization. This should identify key ecosystems, sites and amphibian populations

iv. Produce a list of sites requiring immediate protection and/or restoration
Identify set of high priority species & model the impacts under existing scenarios and future climate change models:

i. Identify a set of characteristics which make amphibians vulnerable to climate change

iii. Superimpose these characteristics to range restricted and or already threatened species to identify priority species
The threats amphibians face from climate change are not well understood.i. Review the data on the threats amphibians face from climate change in order to identify data gaps.

ii. Fill the identified data gaps through facilitation of research on the priority issues by universities, NGOs and local groups and ensuring open-access data sharing of this research.
i. Summarise direct threats

ii. Identify possible synergistic threats needing research

iii. Outline possible threats
We don't have evidence-based solutions to counter the effects of climate change for amphibiansIdentify potential solutions to the effects of climate changeIdentify any clear solutions to the effects of cimate change and outline possibilities for further investigation
CONSERVATION
It is likely that many amphibian-rich areas will be affected by climate change resulting in potential species extinction.Protect and manage the identified key sites and species, addressing the vulnerabilities identified
Climate change is likely affecting amphibian species quicker than we can find solutions to this issue.Establish ex-situ breeding programmes of priority species likely to lose suitable habitat before effective climate change mediation can be implementedDevelop list of most vulnerable species (see Science section above)
The effects of climate change need to be widely understood to gain support for action.Communication of the issues to the amphibian community and wider pubic will be necessary to publicise the issues and the need for action through the identified solutions.Develop communication tools to engage individuals in amphibian climate change issues

ACAP related chapters

Climate Change, Biodiversity Loss, and Amphibian Declines (A. Pounds, A.C.O.Q. Carnaval and S. Corn).

Read the whole ACAP here.

Bibliography

CBD (Convention on Biological Diversity).  2003.  Interlink ages  between  biological  diversity  and  climate  change:  advice  on  the  integration  of  biodiversity considerations  into  the  implementation  of  the  United  Nations  framework  convention  on  climate  change  and  its  Kyoto  Protocol.  Montreal, CA.

Condit R. 1998. Ecological implications of changes in drought patterns: shifts in forest composition in Panama. Climatic Change (39) 413–427

IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). 2001. Climate change 2001: impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Third Assessment. In Climate Change 2001. Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

Julius, S.H. y West, J.M. (eds.) 2008 Preliminary review of adaptation options for  climate-sensitive  ecosystems  and  resources.  A  Report  by  the  US Climate  Change  Science  Program  and  the  Subcommittee  on  Global Change Research. US Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC. 873p.

Millar,  C.I.,  Stephenson,  N.L.  y  Stephens,  S.L.  2007  Climate  change  and forests  of  the  future:  managing  in  the  face  of  uncertainty.  Ecological Applications 17(8): 2145–2151.

Pérez j. Carlos, Locatelli B, Vignola R, Imbach P. 2005. Importancia de los bosques tropicales en las políticas de adaptación al cambio climático. Recursos Naturales y Ambiente/no. (51-52) 4-11pp.