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Ultraviolet Radiation Not Culprit Killing Amphibians, Research Shows

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posted on May, 24 2010 @ 12:15 PM

In nature, ultraviolet radiation from sunlight is not the amphibian killer scientists once suspected.

Declines in amphibian populations around the globe remain a real concern, but the cause is not increasing UV radiation, according to Wendy Palen, lead author and a Simon Fraser University ecologist who conducted the research while earning her doctorate from the UW, and Daniel Schindler, UW professor of aquatic and fishery sciences. The work is being published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences May 25, and is now available online.

Papers published in the late 1990s and early 2000s raised the alarm that UV exposure was triggering amphibian declines, with many of the findings based on Pacific Northwest amphibians. Previous research wasn't wrong: some species proved extremely sensitive to UV radiation -- with especially high mortality for eggs and larvae -- as shown in physiological studies done mostly in highly controlled laboratory experiments or at just one or two natural ponds or sites, Palen says.

But conditions in labs or a few isolated sites are not what the animals typically encounter in the wild and they do not behave in labs as they do in their natural habitat, the new study of a large number of breeding sites, 22 altogether, revealed.

"When simple tests of species physiology are interpreted outside of the animal's natural environment, we often come to the wrong conclusions," Palen says.

For one thing there are lots of "natural sunscreens" in the water. They are in the form of dissolved organic matter -- remnants of leaves and other matter from wetlands and terrestrial areas that are dissolved in the water, much like tea dissolved in a mug of water. The more dissolved organic matter, the less UV exposure.

So now, they have to come up with the real cause of amphibians` decline and range contraction!
Hope they do something about it.

posted on May, 24 2010 @ 07:02 PM
Phew! What a nightmare it would have been to try to put sunscreen on every frog and salamander

My suspicion is water quality is killing the amphibians. Their eggs are water permeable so anything in the water ends up in the the larvae. Certain metals along with phosphates, nitrogen and sulfites could all be possible causes. Mass aerial spraying would go far in explaining the range of the problem, it seems nowhere are amphibians faring well.
It would be a great loss to have all our frogs, toads, salamanders and amphiumas die. It is conceivable that they could disappear within our lifetimes.

posted on May, 25 2010 @ 03:41 PM
reply to post by Asktheanimals

You are right!
Geeze, not even a drop of clear water these days!


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