PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington State University biologist Andrew Storfer is the guest editor of a special edition of the international journal Diversity and Distributions that is focused on amphibian decline.

“The global decline of amphibians has received a great deal of attention because amphibians are thought to be indicator species, or ‘canaries in a coal mine’ that provide an early warning of environmental degradation,” said Storfer. “The topic has drawn considerable scientific attention because there is no obvious, simple cause. Researchers are pursuing a handful of explanations for worldwide losses of amphibian populations that likely affect all species. Thus, understanding the complexity of the amphibian decline case may provide insight as to how other species, including humans, may be affected by changes in the environment.”

Storfer said the worldwide decline of amphibians is part of a general biodiversity crisis. “Amphibians are clearly not canaries, but they are likely sending us the same message – our environment is changing and we are in danger if we don’t pay attention,” he said.

Just released on-line Feb. 26, the March 2003 issue of Diversity and Distributions, a Blackwell Publishing journal, addresses several of the leading hypotheses for amphibian declines. Storfer, along with James Collins of Arizona State University, wrote an introduction that establishes a framework for studying these explanations. Storfer invited the other contributing authors, including Lee Kats and Ryan Ferrer, both of Pepperdine University, who discuss the effects of introduced non-native species; Andrew Blaustein of Oregon State University and others who considered increased ultraviolet radiation and chemical contaminants; Cynthia Carey and Michael Alexander of the University of Colorado who wrote about the effects of global warming; and Peter Daszak of the Consortium for Conservation Medicine and others who discussed emerging infectious diseases. Storfer also contributed a summary article on the future directions in amphibian conservation research.

Storfer, an assistant professor in the School of Biological Sciences, came to WSU in 2001, after two years as an assistant professor at the University of Florida. He earned his doctorate in biology at the University of Kentucky and his bachelor’s degree at Binghamton University in New York.