Vulnerability of Philippine Amphibians to Climate Change
Angel C. Alcala1, Abner A. Bucol1, Arvin C. Diesmos2, and Rafe M. Brown3
1Silliman University Angelo King Center for Research and Environmental
Management (SUAKCREM) Silliman University, Dumaguete City 6200
2National Museum of the Philippines, Rizal Park,
Padre Burgos Ave., Ermita 1000 Manila, Philippines
3Natural History Museum & Biodiversity Institute, Department of Ecology and
Evolutionary Biology, The University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas 66045–7561 USA
There are currently recognized 107 species of Philippine amphibians. In addition, several possible new species await formal taxonomic description. Most of them occupy microhabitats in moist or wet tropical rainforests. Based primarily on their known reproductive modes and microhabitats (including altitudinal distributions), the vulnerability of each amphibian species was assessed. The results of our assessment indicate that 26 species (24.30%) are Highly Vulnerable, 48 species (44.86%) are Moderately Vulnerable, 27 species (25.23%) are Vulnerable, and 6 species (5.61%) are Least Vulnerable to climate change. However, this preliminary assessment is tentative and requires verification through field studies using other sets of indicators. Additionally, virtually all new species currently awaiting description are known from forested mountain habitats. These species are deemed disproportionately susceptible to climate change. Thus, the percentages of vulnerable taxa are expected to climb sharply with ongoing taxonomic and ecological studies.
Amphibian population declines were recorded in the western United States, Puerto Rico, and northwestern Australia in the 1970s. More records of severe declines occurred in Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Venezuela in the 1980s. Initially, these reports were met with skepticism by herpetologists, who suspected these declines were normal variations of natural populations. But later in the 1990s and early 2000s, the declines became more widespread and more severe and were considered beyond the probability of chance events. . . . . . . . . . . .
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