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Europe’s amphibians and reptiles under threat
One fifth of Europe’s reptiles and nearly a quarter of its amphibians are threatened, according to new studies carried out by IUCN for the European Commission.
The studies are the first European Red Lists for amphibians and reptiles, and reveal alarming population trends. More than half of all European amphibians (59 percent) and 42 percent of reptiles are in decline. For 23 percent of amphibians and 21 percent of reptiles the situation is so severe that they are classified as threatened in the European Red List.
Most of the pressure on these declining species comes from mankind's destruction of their natural habitats, combined with climate change, pollution and the presence of invasive species.
Unique biodiversity threatened:
Europe is home to 151 species of reptiles and 85 species of amphibians, many of which are found nowhere else in the world. Six reptile species including the Tenerife Speckled Lizard (Gallotia intermedia) and the Aeolian Wall Lizard (Podarcis raffonei) have been classified as Critically Endangered, meaning that they face an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild. Eleven more are classified as Endangered, meaning they face a very high risk of extinction in the wild, and 10 as Vulnerable, meaning they face a high risk of extinction in the wild. Among amphibians, a group that includes frogs, toads, salamanders and newts, two species have been classified as Critically Endangered, five as Endangered, and 11 are classified as Vulnerable.
Critically endangered in Europe:
- Palma Giant Lizard (Gallotia auaritae)
- Gomera Giant Lizard (Gallotia bravoana)
- Hierro Giant Lizard (Gallotia simonyi)
- Iberolacerta martinezricai
- Aeolian Wall Lizard (Podarcis raffonei)
- Tenerife Speckled Lizard (Gallotia intermedia)
- Karpathos Frog (Pelophylax cerigensis)
- Montseny Brook Newt (Calotriton arnoldi)
Amphibians and reptiles are doing even worse than other species groups. Fifteen percent of mammals and 13 percent of birds are under threat. Other groups too are almost certainly in danger, but only these groups have been comprehensively assessed at the European level according to IUCN regional Red List guidelines.
- The European Red List
- European Red List of Amphibians
- European Red List of Reptiles
- Full IUCN press release 'Europe’s amphibians and reptiles under threat'
Carpetane Rock Lizard image © Iñigo Martinez-Solano