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Otago researcher takes up key role in global fight to save frogs


Wednesday 15 June 2011 10:19am

Dr Phil Bishop.
Dr Phil Bishop
Senior Lecturer

A University of Otago scientist has been appointed to a key position in a major international initiative aimed at reversing the alarming decline of frog populations worldwide.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has announced Department of Zoology Senior Lecturer Dr Phil Bishop’s appointment as Chief Scientist for the Amphibian Survival Alliance (ASA). The ASA is an international consortium of organisations and institutions that has been developing since 2009 to respond to the global amphibian extinction crisis.

The IUCN’s 2004 Global Amphibian Assessment showed that at least 32% of the more than 6000 amphibian species worldwide are threatened with extinction. In response the IUCN has produced a global Amphibian Conservation Action Plan (ACAP).

ASA will coordinate amphibian conservation efforts between different initiatives and institutions worldwide, focusing initially on habitat destruction, climate change, the deadly fungal disease chytridiomycosis, and over-harvesting. It will serve as a platform to secure resources to implement ACAP and is expected to be officially launched at the Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists in the USA in July.

Dr Bishop’s appointment was announced alongside that of Dr Jaime Garcia-Moreno, who will be working out of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria in the Netherlands as the ASA’s Executive Director.

A former co-leader of the New Zealand Native Frog Recovery Group, Dr Bishop is currently the Amphibian Specialist Group Working Group Chair for New Zealand. He was also one of New Zealand’s two “Frog Ambassadors” during the 2008-2009 Year of the Frog.

Dr Bishop says that taking up the ASA Chief Scientist position is an exciting yet sobering challenge.

“Much of my recent energies have been devoted to New Zealand’s four critically endangered native frog species. Now, in my new role, there are thousands more threatened species to be concerned with. An increasing commitment towards international co-operation in tackling the global amphibian crisis is heartening however,” he says.

The ASA is supported by, and will be working in collaboration with, organisations such as Conservation International, the Zoological Society of London, the Detroit Zoological Society, the North of England Zoological Society, Wildlife Conservation Society and Frankfurt Zoo, as well as related initiatives such as the Amphibian Ark.

For more information, contact

Dr Phil Bishop
Tel 64 3 479 7990

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