One-fifth of the world's reptiles are at risk of extinction

Habitat loss is the No.1 reason behind population decline and extinction, according to experts.

A frosted flatwoods salamander.
A frosted flatwoods salamander.
Photo by Nicole Dahrouge, photo courtesy of Amphibian and Reptile Conservancy

Did you know that one-fifth of the world’s reptiles are at risk of extinction?

And amphibians are declining by about 4% every year, according to the United States Geological Survey.

Experts say the No. 1 reason is because of habitat loss.

“Amphibians and reptiles obviously face a lot of reasons for decline including diseases, climate change, the impacts of roads, poaching," said JJ Apodaca, the executive director of the Amphibian and Reptile Conservancy.

The nonprofit works to conserve reptiles and amphibians and their habitats.

The frosted flatwoods salamander is one example.

"The frosted flatwoods salamander is a highly endangered salamander found in the southeastern United States," he said. Their habitat has declined significantly.

So what does that mean for us? The loss of species can impact biodiversity. 

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"If we were to lose even a small portion of our biodiversity it would have huge economic impacts, it would have huge impacts on our society and culture," Apodaca said.

The World Health Organization says biodiversity supports human and societal needs, including food security, the development of medicines, and energy.

While species like the endangered frosted flatwoods salamander are protected by the Endangered Species Act, which turns 50 this year, experts say more can be done to help them recover. The Biden-Harris Administration announced Friday a $62.5 million investment to help plan for endangered species recovery efforts that will benefit more than 300 species listed under the Endangered Species Act.

"We work hard to really try to rebuild ecosystems and protect the species there because of that and because of their inherent value," Apodaca said. "Every species plays a role."

The third Friday of every May is recognized as Endangered Species Day.

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