November 2016

Combatting amphibian declines requires a diverse set of actions, as many as there are threats to species. Many organizations exist to implement conservation actions addressing amphibian declines. Learn more about amphibian conservation from our partners at Amphibian Survival Alliance and the Amphibian Specialist Group.

In 2007, the Global Amphibian Assessment published the Amphibian Conservation Action Plan (or ACAP, read the pdf) to address how to mitigate the extinction of amphibian species. The ACAP report details specific steps that were identified in an IUCN/SSC Amphibian Conservation Summit in 2005 and remains the blueprint for global conservation actions since.

Most direct action conservation projects can be placed in one of two general categories: in situ and ex situ solutions. These are not mutually exclusive solutions and generally strategies to conserve a species will include plans for both.

IN SITU Solutions

The priority of in situ conservation first and foremost is to preserve a species' habitat. This is generally the ideal solution for conserving and protecting biodiversity since it protects the ecosystem and community of a species. Creating and enforcing Protected Areas from development, overharvesting and other destructive activities is prime example of such conservation action. In other cases, targeted action is required. For example, the removal of harmful non-native trout species from alpine lakes and streams has allowed the return of the Mountain Yellow-legged frog in the Sierra Nevada of Californa.

However, sometimes simply protecting areas and habitats may not be enough, especially in the case of emerging infectious disease like chytridiomycosis. Die-offs of amphibians have happened in protected areas or pristine habitats where researchers are left only to speculate the causes. The extinction of the Golden Toad of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve in Costa Rica, is an example of such a disappearance.

EX SITU Solutions

Ex situ conservation protects a species outside its native habitat, usually in the form of captive breeding programs and living collections. Often an ex situ program such as captive breeding may be in support of in situ solutions. There have been successful captive breeding programs that aimed to release youngsters into the wild as part of an effort to boost a species' wild numbers.

Zoos play a special role in many ex situ programs, especially in captive breeding, which Kevin Zippel outlines in our section on zoos.

When amphibian disease scientists and zoos team up, exciting research is possible that may provide a new tool in the conservationists' arsenal. Often these efforts may be a combination of in situ and ex situ solutions. Read more about how a vaccine may be possible for the chytrid fungus on KQED and see the video below.

Can a New "Vaccine" Stem the Frog Apocalypse? | Deep Look KQED