Townsend Appointed International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List Authority for Mesoamerican Amphibians

Posted on 1/31/2013 9:58:41 PM

Professor Josiah Townsend, Department of Biology, will maintain the assessments for the global endangered-species list and lead the formation of a new Mesoamerican Working Group for Amphibians for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).


The critically endangered spike-thumb treefrog (Plectrohyla dasypus) is found only in Cusuco National Park, a cloud forest reserve in northwestern Honduras. It's one of many threatened amphibians in Mesoamerica.

Mesoamerica has a highly diverse and endangered amphibian fauna, with over one-third of the nearly 800 species threatened with extinction. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is considered to be the world’s most comprehensive source of information relating to the conservation status of the world’s plants and animals.

Assessments are carried out on a species-by-species basis using a standard methodological approach for assessing the risk of extinction of the planet’s biodiversity. Red List assessments take into account data related to distribution, population status, ecology and natural history, and known threats and conservation actions.

In 2004, all known species of amphibians were evaluated as part of the Global Amphibian Assessment; however, many assessments haven't been updated since then. Through the formation of a new Mesoamerican Working Group for Amphibians made up of specialists from Mexico and each country in Central America, Townsend will undertake the task of ensuring that each species assessment is updated and maintained using the latest available data.

More information about amphibian conservation is available from the Amphibians Specialist Group and Amphibian Red List Authority

Professor Javier Sunyer (Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Nicaragua - Leon) and Josiah Townsend (right) worked on IUCN Red List assessments at a recent workshop in Palo Verde, Costa Rica.