PORTLAND, Ore. November 21, 2011. The nearly 40 percent of the
world’s amphibians currently at risk of extinction have new
hope for survival in the form of a collaborative Web portal created
by the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station.
The portal, launched by station research ecologist Dede Olson,
serves as an online forum for a global amphibian conservation working
group and is helping to connect researchers and compile and disseminate
their scientific experiences in new ways. The portal, “Climate
Change and Herpetofauna,” is accessible online at http://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/lwm/aem/news/climate_change_and_herpetofauna.html.
Populations of amphibians—like frogs and salamanders—are
declining steadily around the world in response to such threats
as disease, habitat loss, and pollution. Because these species
straddle both aquatic and terrestrial environments and breathe
through their permeable skin, they are especially vulnerable to
changes in their environment and to variable climate patterns.
The projected effects of a warming climate may push some species
already at the upper limit of their environmental tolerance over
Recognizing the need for global connectivity to successfully address
amphibian conservation, Olson worked with Partners in Amphibian
and Reptile Conservation (PARC) to create the portal, which is
now serving as an emerging hub for participatory research. PARC
is a partnership of individuals dedicated to the conservation of
amphibians and reptiles whose members come from all walks of life,
including state and federal agencies, conservation organizations,
museums, the pet industry, zoos, and herpetological organizations.
“Our group is working on what might be done at local scales
to forestall the effects of climate variation, and this site plays
a major role in that effort,” Olson said. “We want
to move beyond trial-and-error conservation by stimulating scientific
exchange on design studies and the development of standardized
methods for monitoring the effectiveness of various solutions over
time and around the world.”
The portal, which was launched this year, showcases selected novel
management actions from around the world that address the climate-driven
habitat stressors for amphibians. One emphasis of many of the actions
featured involves retaining moisture on landscapes, through techniques
such as artificially spraying terrestrial areas to keep them moist
and using solar-powered water pumps to keep ponds from drying out.
Olson’s amphibian research is featured in the October 2011
issue of Science Findings, a monthly publication of the station.
To read it online, visit http://www.treesearch.fs.fed.us/pubs/39469.
The PNW Research Station is headquartered in Portland, Oregon.
It has 11 laboratories and centers located in Alaska, Oregon,
and Washington and about 425 employees.