State of the Amphibia 2020: A review of five years of amphibian research and existing resources

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Molly C. Womack, Emma Cathleen Steigerwald, David Blackburn, David C. Cannatella, Alessandro Catenazzi, Jing Che, Michelle Koo, Jimmy A. McGuire, Santiago R. Ron, Carol Spencer


Amphibians are a clade of over 8,400 species that provide unique research opportunities and challenges. With amphibians undergoing severe global declines, we posit that assessing our current understanding of amphibians is imperative. Focusing on the past five years (2016–2020), we examine trends in amphibian research, data, and systematics. New species of amphibians continue to be described at a pace of ~150 per year. Phylogenomic studies are increasing, fueling a growing consensus in the amphibian tree of life. Over 3,000 species of amphibians are now represented by expert-curated accounts or data in AmphibiaWeb, AmphibiaChina, BioWeb, or the Amphibian Disease Portal. Nevertheless, many species lack basic natural history data (e.g., diet records, morphological measurements, call recordings) and major gaps exist for entire amphibian clades. Genomic resources appear on the cusp of a rapid expansion, but large, repetitive amphibian genomes still pose significant challenges. Conservation continues to be a major focus for amphibian research and threats cataloged on AmphibiaWeb for 1,261 species highlight the need to address land use change and disease using adaptive management strategies. To further promote amphibian research and conservation, we underscore the importance of database integration and suggest that other understudied or imperiled clades would benefit from similar assessments of existing data.



Biology, Life Sciences


biodiversity, conservation, Database, NCBI, taxonomy


Published: 2021-12-16 05:47

Last Updated: 2022-07-14 09:56

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All supplementary data will be made publicly available once the paper undergoes review