Number of Amphibious Species Jumps to 7,000

on July 31, 2012 6:14 PM EDT

tree frog
An Amazonian glass frog called Centrolene sabini is the 7,000th amphibian cataloged on AmphibiaWeb. The beautiful creature hails from high elevation rain forests in Peru. ` (Photo: Alessandro Catenazzi)

Despite a global decline in the total number of amphibians over the past 25 years, the number of species has leapt to 7,000, with 3,000 new species discovered in the past two and a half decades.

David Wake, an emeritus biology professor at the University of California, Berkeley announced the 7,000th amphibian cataloged on AmphibiaWeb this week. The site has been cataloguing Earth's living frogs, salamanders, newts, and caecilians since 2000.

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The 7,000 amphibian to be logged in the database is an Amazonian glass frog (Centrolene sabini), which is found in high elevations of Manu National Park in Amazonian Peru.

It was collected by Alessandro Catenazzi and his companions when he was a postdoctoral scholar at UC Berkeley. The frog is a small (31.2 millimeters long), delicate, beautiful animal that calls from trees above fast-flowing streams in humid, cool, mountain forests at elevations around 2,800 m (about 9000 ft), Wake said.

"In the middle of all the doom and gloom we hear about amphibians, we're finding them at a faster rate," said Wake, according to Futurity.org. Since 1987, a new species of amphibian has been described in scientific literature every 2.5 days and 100 species have been documented so far in 2012.

"In many parts of the world, amphibians are doing very well, and there are certainly many yet to be discovered," he said.

The discoveries don't tell the whole story, though. Global climate change, habitat destruction, pollution and invasive species are just some of the threats that amphibians around the world face, which has led to sharply declining populations.

According to a June 2012 assessment by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), more than 40 percent of amphibians are at risk, while more than 150 species are known to have gone extinct since the early 1980s.

Every time a new species is formally named, it is posted to AmphibiaWeb, according to a release from San Francisco State University. Co-founded by Assistant Professor of Biology Vance Vredenburg the site provides scientists, policymakers, conservationists and members of the public with up to date information on the world's amphibian population.

"If you don't know what species exist, you won't know what you have lost or how to save them," Vredenburg said.

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