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Keywords:

  • Amphibian Specialist Group;
  • Global Action Plan;
  • Global Amphibian Assessment;
  • World Conservation Union

The Global Amphibian Assessment, completed in 2004, revealed that over 32% of the c. 6000 amphibian species known worldwide are threatened with extinction. This staggering figure exceeds rates of imperilment for both birds (12%) and mammals (23%). Amphibians face threats from traditional factors, such as habitat loss, unsustainable use, invasive species and pollution. These stresses are compounded by more novel threats, such as emerging infectious diseases and climate change, which are unimpeded by protected-area boundaries. A Summit was convened in September 2005 to devise a unified strategy for amphibian conservation in the form of the Amphibian Conservation Action Plan (ACAP; available at http://www.amphibians.org/). The ACAP outlines a 5 year plan to curtail the decline and extinction of amphibians, and focuses on 11 themes, each with an associated budget. The total estimated cost of abating the current trend comes to US $400 million over the next 5 years. While this may appear daunting, it serves to highlight the urgency of the situation and draws attention to the need to steer limited resources towards the conservation of this vulnerable group. The ACAP is a call for help to governments, zoos and aquariums, civilians and researchers alike. We need to work together if we are going to succeed in stemming a mass extinction spasm affecting an entire class of vertebrates. The IUCN/SSC (The World Conservation Union/Species Survival Commission) Amphibian Specialist Group (ASG; http://www.amphibians.org/), formed after the Summit, is working to implement the ACAP by stimulating, developing and executing practical programmes to conserve amphibians and their habitats around the world. In addition, the ASG is supporting a global web of partners to develop funding, capacity and technology transfer to achieve shared, strategic amphibian conservation goals.