Threats to Darwin's frogs
The world faces an unprecedented species extinction crisis, with amphibians being the most threatened group of vertebrates. Darwin's frogs (Rhinoderma darwinii and R. rufum) are species native to the forests of Chile and Argentina. These species have become a symbol of amphibian conservation globally.
One of the main threats to both Darwin’s frog species, according to a study published in 2013, is habitat loss due to the development of urban projects in sectors that were previously covered by native forests, as well as the replacement of native forest by agricultural and forestry plantations of exotic species.
The amphibian chytridiomycosis is a skin disease caused by the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. Individuals that develop this disease exhibit a thickening of the superficial skin layers, with a consequent loss of the osmoregulatory activity, which can eventually lead to the death due to cardiac arrest. Scientific evidence indicates that this is also a major threat to Darwin’s frogs.
The climate on planet Earth is changing at an unprecedented rate due to anthropogenic activity. Due to their limited dispersal capability, Darwin's frogs are expected to be particularly affected by climate change: populations of these species are unlikely to colonize new areas with adequate climatic conditions for frog survival and reproduction.
Conservation and management of Darwin's frogs is becoming limited by the poor coordination between different stakeholders and by the absence of protocols and public policies necessary to ensure their conservation. In addition, there is still limited knowledge among the general public about the conservation statuses, uniqueness and the importance of these amazing frogs.