Amphibian Conservation Action Plan
Finding solutions to counter amphibian declines and extinctions is one of the greatest conservation challenges of our time; failure to address these issues would result in alarming implications for the persistence of many species and the health of ecosystems worldwide.
In mid-2013 the IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group (ASG), in partnership with the Amphibian Survival Alliance (ASA), established a number of thematic working groups comprising ASG members with interest and expertise on specific topics relevant to global amphibian conservation. The objective of the working groups is to review efforts since the publication of the original Amphibian Conservation Action Plan (ACAP) in 2007, and develop a clear strategy to address amphibian conservation challenges worldwide, as well as support its implementation.
The immediate aim for each working group was to develop priorities for conservation action, building on the relevant section of the ACAP. The first revision to the ACAP has now been completed, with each group having identified short- and medium-term actions designed to address specific challenges in their field (short-term actions should be achievable in 6-12 months, and medium-term actions achievable in 1-5 years).
Implementation of the priority actions has now begun. The ASA is working on these priorities through its partners, and the ASG thematic working groups (WGs) are further developing those identified priorities where ASG WGs are best placed to spearhead the process.
It is important to note that the new concept for the ACAP is that it becomes a living document, with ongoing updates and revisions undertaken as conservation action is implemented across the different thematic areas.
2007 Amphibian Conservation Action Plan
Habitat loss and degradation are well recognized as the largest threat to amphibian populations around the world.
A better understanding of the potential impacts that climate change has on amphibians is needed. By improving our understanding of the species to be most affected by any changes in climatic conditions and how those particular species will likely be impacted we are better able to direct the conservation prioritization and planning processes for range restricted and threatened species.
Emerging infectious diseases are major threats to amphibian biodiversity. Bdhas caused massive extinctions in various parts of the world, and it has just been found in Madagascar, which has a highly diverse, endemic amphibian fauna. Bsal has just been described, which could devastate salamander species in Europe and the Americas. New viruses have been described in Europe that are highly virulent and have caused population extinctions.
A lack of information on global amphibian trade is significantly hampering effective response to emerging diseases and contributing to the unsustainable harvesting of some amphibian species.
Although contaminants are not necessarily playing a singular role in amphibian population declines on their own, it is likely that they are an important cofactor in many declines. A number of studies have shown that exposure to low environmental concentrations of contaminants such as pesticides can make amphibians more susceptible to disease.
The captive breeding community must be able to respond to new threats as they emerge, emerging infectious diseases in particular. There is currently limited captive breeding capacity and more species in need of conservation breeding programs than there are programs established. As new threats emerge and more species become threatened, there is a risk that the captive breeding community will be unable to respond.
Because the identification and neutralization of threats are such fundamental first steps in species recovery, reintroduction can be risky without a full understanding of these issues. Although this problem is particularly acute in parts of the world where there are high levels of amphibian diversity but a poor understanding of their natural history, some well-researched species in Europe and North America continue to pose challenges in this respect.
Taxonomy is often the basis of priority action in conservation yet the complexities associated with amphibian taxonomy frequently result in unanswered questions and challenges when addressing conservation issues.
Amphibian genome resources impact many aspects of amphibian conservation including: infectious diseases, trade and policy, climate change, ecotoxicology, assessing the success of species conservation strategies, reintroductions, management, habitat loss and restoration, invasive alien species, surveys and monitoring, taxonomy and systematics, education and awareness and even politics.
Basic information on amphibian distributions, ranges, population sizes, conservation status and threats for many species and regions is still lacking, and many priority amphibian species or biodiverse priority regions have no conservation strategies in place.
With the threat of emerging infectious amphibian diseases such as Bd, Bsaland Ranavirus, the lack of screening for these diseases in biodiversity surveys poses a significant threat to amphibians around the world. Ensuring that the integration of disease monitoring is a standard part of all surveys is of critical importance in areas such as Madagascar (Bd),the Americas (Bsal) and Europe (Ranavirus).
Communication and education are both key to grow and sustain support for biodiversity conservation. Through communication and education, we identify threats to biodiversity at local and regional scales and also bring about the learning needed across groups to mitigate these threats.
The Amphibian Survival Alliance is working with 100+ partners around the world to turn the IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group Working Group’s priorities into action on the ground. To learn more about what’s being done and our progress to date, please click on the following focal areas:
In the Wild
One Green Health
Communication & Education