Salamander numbers fell in the cloud forest, and no one heard, according to a report by North and Central American researchers.
A University of California, Berkeley team working with biologists from Mexico and Guatemala has found “uneven but severe” declines for high-altitude species, says Sean Rovito of UC Berkeley. From 2005 through 2007, Rovito and his colleagues returned during the wet season to places that had been surveyed for salamanders in the 1970s.
Sampling at study sites up the side of Volcán Tajumulco in Guatemala found lowland species surviving but what the team calls a “collapse” of salamander communities higher up the slopes. For example, researchers in the 1970s had averaged 30 to almost 80 salamanders per visit for each of four common species. Modern surveyors found ten at most and sometimes none. Researchers found Pseudoeurycea goebeli only once (shown), on nearby Volcán Chicabal.
“It’s not just Guatemala,” Rovito says. He and his colleagues visited high-altitude sites in Mexico with similar results.
Since the 1980s biologists have raised alarms about worldwide declines in amphibians attributed to habitat destruction, disease and climate change, among other menaces, but most of the research has focused on frogs. The new work, published online February 9 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, emphasizes the breadth of the problem. — Susan MiliusCredit: Sean Rovito
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