Breeding habits of toads and frogs hit by climate change


The normal breeding cycles of four species of salamander and frog altered with changes in the climate

Climate change may be affecting the normal breeding patterns of frogs, salamanders and other amphibians leading to fears of future population loss of some species

The breeding cycles of amphibians are being affected by climate change, according to research from wetlands in South Carolina, United States.

It found two normally autumn-breeding species breeding later in the year and a further two winter-breeding species reproducing much earlier than previously. Overall, the four species had shifted their breeding cycle by between 15 and 76 days in the past 30 years.

This change co-incided with a 1.2 degree rise in overnight air temperatures at the studied location during the breeding periods.

Researchers from the University of California, who led the study, said it was some of the 'greatest rates' of climate-induced change in ecological events ever reported.

Frogs and toads are thought to respond to environmental cues such as temperature or rainfall to decide when to breed each year. Although a further six species studied did not change the timing of their breeding habits, the study researchers fear that some species may ultimately be lost as a result of climate change.

'Whether this is adaptive and promotes species persistence remains to be determined,' said study co-author assistant professor Brian Todd, from the University of California.

'My own hunch is that some species may be disadvantaged whereas others may benefit or be relatively unaffected. Given the uncertainty and the pace of climate change, I think we should remain concerned about the fate of these species.'

This is not the first time species have been shown to be affected by changing climate. Another study found that climate change could be causing flowers to open before bees emerged from hibernation leading to declines in pollination.

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