May 22, 2009

Europe’s amphibians, reptiles vanishing

Pollution, climate change, invasive species and habitat destruction are killing Europe's native reptiles and amphibians, wildlife experts said.

Fifty-nine percent of all European amphibians and 42 percent of reptiles are declining and face even greater risk than European mammals and birds, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature said.

In all, 23 percent of Europe's amphibian species and 21 percent of its reptile species have been classified as threatened and added to the European Red List of endangered species, said the European Commission.

Natural habitats across Europe are being squeezed by growing human populations, agricultural intensification, urban sprawl and pollution. That is not good news for either amphibians or reptiles, said Helen Temple, co-author of a conservation risk study.

Europe is home to 151 species of reptiles and 85 species of amphibians, many of which live nowhere else in the world.