IUCN Red List: Amphibians in Danger

Jan 21, 2021

Amphibians are an incredibly important part of our planet. Though often elusive and hard to spot amphibians are considered a key indicator species and are among the first species effected by changing environmental conditions. “Amphibian” actually comes from the Greek word meaning “double life” which refers to how an amphibian starts its life in the water and ends its life on land. They hatch from eggs laid in water slowly transition from gills to lungs and upon reaching adulthood use their fully developed lungs and legs to live the rest of their lives on land.


Amphibians in Danger 

Unfortunately 40% of the world’s amphibian species are threatened with extinction.[1] Factors such as habitat destruction non-native species (predatory fish bullfrogs fungus pathogens) warmer temperatures and higher water levels due to climate change pollution and diseases are all contributing to worldwide amphibian population drops.[2] Many creatures including humans find frogs delicious and enjoy indulging in a frog meal. Their most common predators are snakes birds raccoons turtles fish mammals and even bigger amphibians! 

The last several decades have seen a sharp decline in amphibian populations with over 120 species becoming endangered or extinct due to human activity.[3] Unfortunately the human palate for frog legs is a major threat to many wild amphibian species that are already suffering declines in population numbers. It is estimated that over 200 million frogs possibly 1 billion are killed for food each year.[4]

The chart below shows the number of at-risk amphibian species: 33.4% are either Critically Endangered Endangered or Vulnerable and 0.5% are Extinct entirely.[5] 


Conservation Actions 

To rescue threatened populations nonprofits around the world are working tirelessly to implement much-needed conservation programs. Endangered Species International works to reverse the decline of amphibians through targeted research and conservation projects and general comprehensive conservation programs. These conservation efforts advocate for the creation and maintenance of protected areas that cover the ranges of unprotected endangered amphibian species. Endangered Species International also assists the World Conservation Union in revising and updating existing lists of threatened species based on the latest research. They also actively educate and reach out to the public including school children about the plight of amphibians.[6] 


Effie Yeaw Nature Center 

Like other nonprofits Effie Yeaw Nature Center is also actively involved in maintaining the ecosystem for local amphibians. Our protected Nature Study Area provides a safe habitat for many species of wildlife including our native amphibians. Here in the Sacramento area our native species include California Tiger Salamander California Newt California Slender Salamander Western Spadefoot Western Toad Northern Pacific Tree Frog. We also have bullfrogs though these are actually an invasive species! At the Effie Yeaw Nature Center we have two ponds that are full of amphibian life. To help conserve the species we make sure our plants and water are clean and undisturbed by visitors. If you take a look in the pond in our replica village you can observe tadpoles swimming amongst the small fish that also call the pond their home. 


How Can You Help?

Buy sustainable pesticide-free produce if you can! By reducing consumptions of produce farmed with pesticide and fertilizer you can directly help by decreasing the amount of chemical contamination that effects many amphibian species.

Avoid releasing environmental estrogens into the water! Environmental estrogens are known to affect amphibians worldwide by disrupting amphibian mating behavior and causing population levels to fall.[7] Minimize your use of products such as hair coloring products and single-use plastics both of which contribute to the release of environmental estrogens into the water.[8] 

Leave native aquatic vegetation growing in your pond! If you have a pond allow some native plants to grow to provide food refuge and a safe breeding habitat for amphibians. 

Join campaigns to stop frog and salamander trade! The global frog trade for both food and pet frogs has been responsible for introducing amphibian diseases and non-native species.[9] 

Protect amphibians from household animals! Outdoor cats and dogs can prey upon and disrupt breeding activities of frogs and salamanders. Be a responsible pet owner and discourage pets from disturbing amphibians. 

Reduce your water consumption! Take shorter showers and turn your faucet off when you’re brushing your teeth. Amphibians are heavily dependent on stable watersheds and excessive use of water by humans can drain these watersheds reducing the amount of habitat for amphibians.



[1] "The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species – Background & History."  2021.Web. 20 Jan. 2021.IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 

[2] "What's Endangering Amphibians?" Burke Museum. Web. 20 Jan. 2021.

[3] "Endangered Amphibians Worldwide." Endangered Species International. Web. 20 Jan. 2021.

[4] "Frogs Are Being Eaten To Extinction Experts Say." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily 21 Jan. 2009. Web. 20 Jan. 2021.

[5] "IUCN Red List – Amphibian Stats." IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2021.Web. 20 Jan. 2021.

[5] "Endangered Species International at the Forefront of Amphibian Conservation." Endangered Species International. Web. 20 Jan. 2021.

[6] "Unnoticed Sex Reversal in Amphibians Due to Artificial Estrogen from Pills." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily 04 Apr. 2016. Web. 20 Jan. 2021.

[7] Weiss Rick. "ESTROGEN IN THE ENVIRONMENT." The Washington Post. WP Company 25 Jan. 1994. Web. 20 Jan. 2021.

[8] Nitya Mohanty Post-doctoral Fellow Centre for Invasion Biology (C-I-B) Department of Botany & Zoology. "Global Pet Trade in Amphibians Is Bigger than We Thought." The Conversation. 28 May 2020. Web. 20 Jan. 2021.

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