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Global warming and amphibian losses


Arising from: J. A. Pounds et al. Nature 439, 161–167 (2006)10.1038/nature04246; Pounds et al. reply

Is global warming contributing to amphibian declines and extinctions by promoting outbreaks of the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis? Analysing patterns from the American tropics, Pounds et al.1 envisage a process in which a single warm year triggers die-offs in a particular area (for instance, 1987 in the case of Monteverde, Costa Rica). However, we show here that populations of two frog species in the Australian tropics experienced increasing developmental instability, which is evidence of stress2,3,4, at least two years before they showed chytrid-related declines. Because the working model of Pounds et al. is incomplete, their test of the climate-linked epidemic hypothesis could be inconclusive.

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Figure 1: Limb asymmetry in frog populations that soon declined, compared with non-declining 'control' populations.
Figure 2: Temperature changes and the period of major frog die-offs in Queensland, Australia.


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Correspondence to Ross A. Alford.

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Alford, R., Bradfield, K. & Richards, S. Global warming and amphibian losses. Nature 447, E3–E4 (2007).

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