Complexity in conservation: lessons from the global decline of amphibian populations


  • Editor, R. A. Alford

Correspondence to: Andrew R. Blaustein E-mail:


As part of an overall “biodiversity crisis” many amphibian populations are in decline throughout the world. Numerous causes have been invoked to explain these declines. These include habitat destruction, climate change, increasing levels of ultraviolet radiation, environmental contamination, disease, and the introduction of non-native species. In this paper, we argue that amphibian population declines are caused by different abiotic and biotic factors acting together in a context-dependent fashion. Moreover, different species and different populations of the same species may react in different ways to the same environmental insult. Thus, the causes of amphibian population declines will vary spatially and temporally. Although some generalizations (e.g. those concerning environmental stress and disease outbreaks) can be made about amphibian population declines, we suggest that these generalizations take into account the context-dependent dynamics of ecological systems.