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
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
The Preface notes that it is not the intention of this
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.