Washington, Feb 10 (ANI): A new study has suggested that due to global warming, salamanders may soon become extinct, with a sharp decline in the number of species worldwide.
According to a report in National Geographic News, researchers have said that two common species surveyed in the 1970s in cloud forests of southern Mexico and Guatemala are extinct, and several others have plummeted in number.
The tiny amphibians seem to be on the same downward spiral as their frog cousins, which have been mysteriously declining for years.
Scientists have identified chytrid, a fast-killing fungus that may spread in waves, as responsible for wiping out frogs around the world.
But, among the Central American salamanders, "there's no way we can attribute the declines we've found to chytrid," said study author David Wake, a biologist at the University of California, Berkeley. Instead, Wake said that global warming "makes perfect sense."
In the 1970s, Wake spent several years researching lungless salamanders in the San Marcos region of western Guatemala, one of the most diverse and well-studied salamander communities in the American tropics.
Between 2005 and 2007, he and colleagues returned to that region and previous study sites in Mexico to survey salamanders and compare their results to the historical data.
Their data-collecting strategy remained the same: Spot as many salamanders as possible in a standard amount of time.
The results shocked Wake.
"Cold facts written on a piece of paper don't convey the impact on my psyche when I went there," he said. Species that could be seen 10 to 15 times an hour in the 1970s were "completely gone."
"These species lived in forests at mid-elevations, up to 2,800 feet (853 meters) - a zone where global warming is most intense," Wake said.
Seven out of 62 salamanders tested showed signs of chytrid fungus, which is not enough direct evidence to link the fungus to the drop in numbers, said the authors.
As for saving the elusive creatures, there are few solutions, said Wake. But, it's clear that "locking up nature" in reserves is not going to work.
According to Wake, climate change and chytrid fungus don't respect borders. "We need to promote activities that reduce the impact of climate change," he said. (ANI)