Population declines and priorities for amphibian conservation in Latin America

Bruce E. Young, Karen R. Lips, Jamie K. Reaser, Roberto Ibáñez, Antonio W. Salas, J. Rogelio Cedeño, Luis A. Coloma, Santiago Ron, Enrique La Marca, John R. Meyer, Antonio Muñoz, Federico Bolaños, Gerardo Chaves, David Romo

Research output: Contribution to journalScientific reviewpeer-review

298 Scopus citations


Although dramatic amphibian population declines have been reported worldwide, our understanding of the extent of the declines in Latin America, where amphibian diversity is high, is limited to a few well-documented studies. To better understand the geographic extent of declines, their possible causes, and the measures needed to improve Latin American scientists' ability to research the phenomenon and make effective management recommendations, we convened three regional workshops with 88 Latin American herpetologists and conservationists. Population declines are widespread in Latin America. At least 13 countries have experienced declines, and in 40 cases species are now thought to be extinct or extirpated in a country where they once occurred. Declines or extinctions have affected 30 genera and nine families of amphibians. Most declines have occurred in remote highlands, above 500 m in elevation in Central America and above 1000 m in the Andes. Most documented declines occurred in the 1980s. Of the possible causes studied to date, climate change appears to be important at one site and chytrid fungal disease has been identified at sites in three countries. Although many monitoring studies are currently underway in a variety of habitats, most studies are recent and of short duration. In a signed resolution, workshop participants called for greater collaboration and communication among scientists working in Latin America to understand the geographic extent of population declines and the distribution of possible causal factors. In situ conservation is important to protect habitats, but captive-rearing programs for species subject to imminent extinction are also needed. Better understanding of the taxonomy and natural history of amphibians and more funding for research and monitoring are critical to developing a scientific basis for management action to arrest and reverse population declines.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1213-1223
Number of pages11
JournalConservation Biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 25 Oct 2001
Externally publishedYes


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