iHerp Australia Issue 14 | Page 34

A Good Book. Status of Conservation and Decline of Amphibians. Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Islands. Harold Heatwole, Jodi Rowley (eds.). This volume aims to bring together current knowledge concerning the conservation status of the frogs of Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific, and the publishers therefore purport that it will be an invaluable reference for environmental and government agencies, and in fact anyone concerned with amphibian conservation. The book is obviously very well researched and handsomely packaged, and although I have not seen any others in the series, this is a huge overall undertaking. As far as format is concerned, a brief demographic overview of Australia’s amphibian fauna is followed by chapters concerned with regional analysis, an excellent section on the impact of Cane Toads, plus chapters examining the role of ex situ conservation, state and federal laws, and then the status of CSIRO Publishing amphibians in New Zealand and the Pacific respectively. ISBN 9781486308385 RRP $160 The Preface notes that it is not the intention of this Hardback, 248pp publication to compete with websites that continually update the conservation status of amphibians, but rather to Format: 270 x 210mm. present a ‘time capsule’ at a particular point in time, and this has unquestionably been achieved in fine fashion. It is amphibians, and merely highlights the need for more also acknowledged that species were further declining or research. even perhaps going extinct whilst the book was being produced - an inevitable hindrance. Overall, this is a beautiful publication, and the editors are In the Introduction the editors caution against ‘facile oversimplifications’ in assessing the various causal agents involved in the demise of amphibians. However, they then introduce a diagram with a myriad of arrows that attempts to link no less than 40 different factors and makes little sense. Ironically, due primarily to a lack of data (in particular baseline data, which is duly noted), the conclusions drawn throughout regarding conservation status are generally rather simple and obvious, with chytrid fungus and habitat loss identified as the two main current threats for many species, although the likely future impact of each is difficult to assess. This won’t come as a surprise to anyone with even a passing interest in to be congratulated on an extremely thorough synthesis and appraisal of available information, requiring an immense amount of work. It will undoubtedly become an important point of reference for those interested in amphibian conservation, however it is unavoidably constrained by a lack of data, together with a conservation framework which is very fluid. Reviewed by John McGrath.