Widespread amphibian extinctions from epidemic disease driven by global warming

J. Alan Pounds, Martín R. Bustamante, Luis A. Coloma, Jamie A. Consuegra, Michael P.L. Fogden, Pru N. Foster, Enrique La Marca, Karen L. Masters, Andrés Merino-Viteri, Robert Puschendorf, Santiago R. Ron, G. Arturo Sánchez-Azofeifa, Christopher J. Still, Bruce E. Young

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1444 Scopus citations

Abstract

As the Earth warms, many species are likely to disappear, often because of changing disease dynamics. Here we show that a recent mass extinction associated with pathogen outbreaks is tied to global warming. Seventeen years ago, in the mountains of Costa Rica, the Monteverde harlequin frog (Atelopus sp.) vanished along with the golden toad (Bufo periglenes). An estimated 67% of the 110 or so species of Atelopus, which are endemic to the American tropics, have met the same fate, and a pathogenic chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) is implicated. Analysing the timing of losses in relation to changes in sea surface and air temperatures, we conclude with 'very high confidence' (>99%, following the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC) that large-scale warming is a key factor in the disappearances. We propose that temperatures at many highland localities are shifting towards the growth optimum of Batrachochytrium, thus encouraging outbreaks. With climate change promoting infectious disease and eroding biodiversity, the urgency of reducing greenhouse-gas concentrations is now undeniable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-167
Number of pages7
JournalNature
Volume439
Issue number7073
DOIs
StatePublished - 12 Jan 2006

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Widespread amphibian extinctions from epidemic disease driven by global warming'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this