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Amphibian Conservation

Amphibians are the most threatened group of vertebrates. An emergent disease, chytridiomycosis, is decimating amphibian biodiversity worldwide. Our work in cloud forests of the Amazonian slopes of the Andes and throughout the Andean cordillera is quantifying the impact of chytridiomycosis on amphibian biodiversity, and tracing the spread of the fungal pathogen and associated amphibian declines in the region.

The Project

The eastern slopes of the Andes and western Amazon host the greatest number of frog species on the planet. In the Andes, levels of endemism are very high, and many species remain to be discovered and named. Concurrently, emergent threats such as disease and climate change are causing population declines and species extinctions even in protected areas and remote places with low human footprint. Our work aims at discovering and naming new species before they disappear or become too rare to be detected, and quantifying the impact of climate change and the fungal disease chytridiomycosis on amphibian biodiversity.

The Impact

We have discovered and named over 30 species of amphibians, mostly in the eastern slopes of the Andes, but also in the Amazon rainforest and the high Andes. The discovery of most of these new species strengthens existing protections, or supported proposals to create new protected areas in Peru. We have established a long-term amphibian monitoring site in the eastern slopes of the Andes in southern Peru, where frog communities have been monitored since 1996 along a large elevational gradient from 500 to 3,700 meters. With these long-term data sets, we have quantified the catastrophic effect of emergent chytrid disease on frog communities.

Find more information on this project on the Catenazzi Lab website.