Eggs of the blue-spotted salamander take about a month to hatch. At hatching, larvae have a well-developed mouth and eyes. Front limbs form in two weeks and hind limbs form in three weeks.
Since the 1970s worldwide amphibian populations have been in decline. Habitat loss is the main cause of declines but pollution, habitat degradation, invasive species, and a changing climate are also important factors.
Amphibians as Indicator Species
Amphibians serve important functions in the natural world. They have a huge role in the nutrient cycle; serving as both predator and prey, they help keep our waters clean, pests under control, and nutrients moving up the food chain. Most amphibians have distinct larval and adult stages which are split between terrestrial and aquatic habitats- making them uniquely vulnerable to habitat loss and degradation.
Behavioral and physiological characteristics also make amphibians highly vulnerable to changes in their environment. Traits like their porous skin - which is crucial for respiration, preventing dehydration, and even drinking - is incredibility sensitive to changes in temperature, the presence of contaminants, and even water chemistry like pH. Many amphibians are also philopatric, meaning they return to the pond where they were born to breed, but if ponds are destroyed or can no longer be accessed due to roads or other barriers- they may not breed. Environmental stressors like habitat loss, pollution, climate change (increased UV radiation, fluctuations in rainfall and water temperature) can lead to deformities, delayed or premature metamorphosis, unsuccessful breeding, and even death.
Amphibians in decline
Since the 1970s worldwide amphibian populations have been in decline. Scientists estimate that over 150 species have gone extinct since 1980 and one-third of all amphibian species are threatened. Habitat loss is the main cause of declines but pollution, habitat degradation, and invasive species are also important factors. The recent emergence of major amphibian diseases, together with climate change, may be the biggest threat to face amphibians yet.
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