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Posted 14 August 2009 - 08:02 PM
Posted 16 August 2009 - 09:30 AM
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Posted 21 October 2009 - 01:02 AM
About a third of amphibian species are threatened with extinctions.
A two-day summit held last week in London identified the two main threats as destruction of habitat and the fungal disease（真菌病） chytridiomycosis.
"The world's amphibians（两栖类） are facing an uphill battle（艰难的斗争） for survival," said James Collins, co-chair of the Amphibian Specialist Group (ASG) co-ordinated by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
"By far the worst threats are infectious disease and habitat destruction, so the Alliance will focus on these issues first."
Last week's meeting, held at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), declared that research into possible treatments for the chytrid（壶菌） fungus should be a top priority.
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Identified only a decade ago, the fungus now infects amphibians in the Americas, Australia, Europe, Asia and Africa.
How it originated and how it kills are matters of ongoing research.
But in practical terms, finding something that can stop it in open country rather than the laboratory is the big challenge.
Researchers have found that some amphibian species carry chemicals on their skin that provide a natural defence.
The idea is to see whether these chemicals can be turned into something that can attack the fungus in the wild, providing a defence for species that currently have none.
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The new Amphibian Survival Alliance (ASA) sees this line of research as an urgent priority.
More difficult to tackle（处理，抓住） will be the ongoing destruction of habitat that is a concern in most continents, but especially in parts of Asia that are seeing rapid expansion of cities, industry and infrastructure.
"If we want to stop the amphibian extinction crisis, we have to protect the areas where amphibians are threatened by habitat destruction," said Claude Gascon, the Amphibian Specialist Group's other co-chair.
"One of the reasons amphibians are in such dire（可怕的，悲惨的） straits（困难，窘境） is because many species are only found in single sites and are therefore much more susceptible to（对……敏感的） habitat loss."
As a group, amphibians are considerably more threatened than birds, mammals, fish or reptiles（爬行动物）.
Apart from habitat loss and chytrid, issues of concern are:
unsustainable hunting for food, medicine and the pet trade
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other infectious diseases
The formation of the ASA was proposed in 2006 but adequate financial and institutional backing did not materialise.
At that stage scientists were divided over how money and resources should be split between conservation in the wild and captive breeding.
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Now there is general agreement that both strategies are necessary.
Initial backing emerged at the ZSL meeting in the form of a $200,000 pledge that will fund the ASA co-ordinator's post for two years.
Posted 21 October 2009 - 03:30 AM
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