Amphibians are undergoing a global conservation crisis, and they are one of the most underrepresented groups of vertebrates in the global network of protected areas (PAs). In this study, we evaluated the ability of the world's PAs to represent extant amphibian species. We also estimated the magnitude of the human footprint along the geographic distributions of gap species (i.e., those with distributions totally outside PAs). Twenty-four percent of species (n=1535) are totally unrepresented, and another 18% (n=1119) have less than 5% of their distribution inside PAs. Nearly half of all species with ranges under 1000km2 do not occur inside any PA. Furthermore, more than 65% of the distribution of gap species is in human-dominated landscapes. Although the Earth's PAs have greatly increased during the last ten years, the number of unprotected amphibians has also grown. Tropical countries in particular should strongly consider (1) the importance of using amphibians to drive conservation policies that eventually lead to the implementation and management of PAs, given amphibians' extinction risk and ability to act as bioindicators; (2) the effectiveness of national recovery plans for threatened amphibian species; and (3) the need for increased funding for scientific research to expand our knowledge of amphibian species. Meanwhile, data-deficient amphibian species should receive a higher priority than they usually receive in conservation planning, as a precautionary measure. Throughout this paper, we point out several challenges in creating more comprehensive amphibian conservation strategies and opportunities in the next decade.
Biological Conservation – Elsevier
Published: Nov 1, 2015
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