Frogs, toads, salamanders, newts, and caecilians are going extinct. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)'s Red List of Threatened Species estimates that at least one-third of known amphibian species are threatened with extinction, a rate higher than that for birds or mammals. Major threats to amphibians include habitat loss or degradation and the rapidly dispersing infectious disease chytridiomycosis. Managed populations of amphibians may become the only conservation hope for many species faced with imminent extinction.
AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums, with their demonstrated expertise in Species Survival Plan® (SSP) Programs, have been called upon to meet this challenge. Once common across Puerto Rico, the Puerto Rican crested toad (Peltophryne lemur) was driven nearly to extinction by human activities. In 1982, under the auspices of the AZA Amphibian Taxonomic Advisory Group (TAG), the Puerto Rican Crested Toad SSP Program began a reintroduction program to breed and release this species into its native habitat. Since then, SSPs for the Wyoming Toad, Panamanian Golden Frog, Harlequin Golden Frog, Dusky Gopher Frog, and Houston Toad have been established to enhance amphibian conservation efforts.
AZA, its Animal Programs and Committees are committed to protecting amphibians. The Amphibian TAG and SSPs work directly with at-risk species, while the Conservation Education Committee developed conservation and education resources, and AZA manages the FrogWatch USA citizen science program.
AZA’s Amphibian Taxon Advisory Group (ATAG) serves a vital role in helping AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums take strategic, sustainable, and effective actions towards the protection and conservation of amphibians. Some available resources include:
FrogWatch USA is AZA's citizen science program by which volunteers learn about wetlands in their communities and contribute data on the calls of local frogs and toads to a national dataset. The information from thousands of other FrogWatch USA volunteers across the United States is readily available for ongoing analyses to help develop practical strategies for the benefit of these important animals. Read more about FrogWatch USA.
Every year, AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums provide information about their field conservation and science activities to AZA’s Conservation and Research Database. Members enter program updates each year; follow the link and use the search fields to explore how individual AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums are helping amphibians and other animals. Read more about the AZA community’s commitment to conservation and science.