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Why Did the Golden Toad Become Extinct?

November 7, 2011

Why did the golden toad become extinct?

Extinction is when the existence of a species of organisms comes to an end. Every organism in that species dies and the species completely disappears from the planet when it is extinct. In the past many species have gone extinct for a few reasons. The causes can be due to humans or nature. Humans cause pollution, they overhunt and overharvest and they destroy habitats. Nature can cause extinction through climate change, overpopulation and lack of resources.  The golden toad became extinct due to both humans and nature.

The golden toad is a species of toad that was discovered in 1964 in Costa Rica within the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve. It is the only species of toad that is not gray or brown. The males are a golden color and the females are yellow to dark brown or black, spotted with scarlet. Also, males out number females 8 to 1. The golden toad started declining in the late 80s and by 1992 they were completely extinct. There are three theories to why the golden toad population became extinct: climate change, pollution, ultraviolet radiation and fungal skin infections.

The golden toad may have become extinct because of El Nino. El Nino caused climate change within the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve. The rainfall was the lowest recorded and the temperature also reached record highs. This dry and warm new climate could have caused the toads to become extinct. It could have made it difficult for their offspring to survive due to puddles drying up and killing tadpoles or causing disease within the population. So climate change could have cause the decline and extinction of the population.

The cause of the extinction could have also been caused by pollution through pesticides.  This theory of extinction states that pollution from pesticides could have caused sexual dimorphism.  This would cause the golden toads to become sterile and unable to reproduce. The pesticides could have entered the atmosphere through the pesticide spray being drifted through the air. Also, the pesticide contaminated soil particles could have entered the atmosphere. A third way pesticides could have entered the atmosphere is through evaporation. So the extinction of the golden toad could have been caused through pollution.

Ultra violet radiation or disease could have also caused the extinction of the golden toad. UV exposure impairs the immune function, which makes larvae vulnerable to infection through Saprolengnia, a fungus. It naturally occurs in lakes and ponds. Disease could have caused the extinction through chytridiomycosis. This is a skin infection that leads to a thickening of the skin and eventual dehydration and suffocation. Also, there are many other types of bacteria that could have affected the golden toads. They could have become more vulnerable to the bacteria due to the low moisture and warm temperature. S UV rays and disease could have also caused the extinction of the golden toad.

So the golden toad could have become extinct for a few reasons. Each reason is either to do with natural causes or causes because of human interaction. The reasons could have been climate change, pollution, ultra violet rays or disease. The scientific community is not positive as to the reason why the golden toads became extinct, scientists can only guess.

 

Sources:

The Extinction of the Golden Toad (Bufo periglenes)- Symptom of a Worldwide Crisis, Britton Windeler, retrieved November 7, 2011 from

http://jrscience.wcp.muohio.edu/fieldcourses05/PapersCostaRicaArticles/TheExtinctionoftheGoldenT.html

 

Golden Toads- Costa Rica, retrieved November 7, 2011 from http://www.usgcrp.gov/usgcrp/seminars/990929FO.html
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