Online Come, know the toad

Published: Sunday 30 September 2007


Call it a virtual initiative to help a variety of animals, many of whose ancestors shared space with dinosaurs. The decline of amphibians has spurred a group of volunteers who run an online system that enables anyone with a web browser to look up information relating to amphibian biology and conservation. The site was developed in conjunction with the Digital Library Project at the University of California, Berkeley.

It offers taxonomic information for more than 6,000 species that live on land and water. Accounts added to the site by volunteers--a large number of whom are specialists--contain species descriptions, life history information, conservation status, literature references, photos and range maps for many species. Some species have complete accounts; others as yet only photographs or maps. All species can be queried for taxonomic, distributional and exact specimen data.The Digital Library Project made the technology used to view species information and photographs.

The site is evolving but still has a wealth of detail. Take the country search option. A comprehensive countrywide list detailing vulnerability is just available. Then there is a detailed--and updated--list of papers on amphibian decline and their causes, and conservation. The compiler has emphasised works describing monitoring and conserving methods.

The originators of the project have set themselves the ambitious goal of having a "home page for every species of amphibian". They request volunteers and specialists to help them prepare species accounts.

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