Pushing the Boundaries of Life: Tropics
Last Updated on 2008-09-07 00:00:00
For many years, it was thought that tropical rain forests were essentially unaffected by climate change. Now studies are showing that not only were they changed during past events like ice ages, but some areas are being affected right now by warming. At Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Costa Rica, clouds are forming higher, drying out some of the habitat and causing changes in flora and fauna.
The most celebrated peer reviewed case is the disappearance of the golden toads, Bufo periglenes. Each year Dr. Alan Pounds and others search for the distinctive orange amphibian (see photos) in its restricted habitat along a narrow, fog-bound ridge. About 1500 toads were sighted in 1987. But now the breeding pools remain empty -- the toad has not been seen since 1991 and is feared extinct.
The golden toad and other amphibians and lizards studied by Dr. Pounds are in decline... More »