The Amphibian and Reptile Extinction Crisis

Amphibians and reptiles are amazing creatures with clever adaptations that have allowed them to brave the millennia. Consider the Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard (Uma inornata)’s scaly hind toes, which resemble snowshoes and keep the lizard from sinking into sand as it sprints away from predators; or the eastern diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus)’s heat-sensing pit organ, which helps it find the small, warm-blooded prey on which it feeds. Such diversity is vital to functioning ecosystems and enriches humankind’s enjoyment of the natural world. But today the world’s herpetofauna are among the most imperiled species on Earth. Ubiquitous toxins, global warming, nonnative predators, overcollection, habitat destruction and disease are key factors leading to their demise. Globally, 989 species of reptiles, or almost 20 percent of evaluated species, are endangered or vulnerable to extinction, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List.

The situation is even worse for amphibians. More than 2063 species of frogs, toads and salamanders — more than 31 percent of the world’s amphibians — are at risk of dying out. And scientists lack sufficient information to even assess the status of more than 20 percent of the world’s herps. These species are slipping away faster than we can study them.

Source: Centre for Biological Diversity