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Climate change not main driver of amphibian decline

While a warming climate in recent decades may be a factor in the waning of some local populations of frogs, toads, newts and salamanders, it cannot explain the overall steep decline of amphibians, according to researchers. Researchers analyzed many years of data for 81 North American amphibian species including more than 500,000 observations collected at more than 5,000 sites in 86 study areas by a broad coalition of herpetologists. They concluded it's clear a warming climate is not the primary driver in amphibians' disappearance, according to the researchers. The researchers focused on how colonization and persistence of local populations were related to annual variation in five climate variables thought to affect key components of amphibian life cycles: winter severity, snowfall, breeding water availability, summer soil moisture and maximum temperature. The study showed that, on average, 3.4 percent of amphibian species are disappearing from local amphibian habitats each year. That is the equivalent of losing half the species in any wetland, stream reach or forest site every 20 years. The researchers believe these declines are a continuation of losses of amphibian populations that have been occurring since the 19th century, when human land-use began destroying their habitats.

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