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By Mark Kinver
Science and environment reporter, BBC News


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More than half of Europe's amphibians could be extinct by 2050, a team of UK researchers has warned.
Climate change, habitat destruction and disease were the main factors threatening the species' long-term survival, they added.
Scientists from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) said creatures in Italy and Iberia were at most risk.
A recent global assessment found that a third of all amphibians were at risk of being wiped off the face of the planet.
The findings were presented at an event hosted by naturalist Sir David Attenborough to highlight the plight of Europe's amphibians.
"Amphibians are the lifeblood of many environments, playing key roles in the functions of ecosystems," Sir David said.
"It is both extraordinary and terrifying that in just a few decades we could lose half of all these species."
Bleak outlook
Outlining the team's findings, ZSL research fellow Trent Garner said climate change was likely to have a dramatic impact on the conditions the creatures needed to survive.
"Published projections show that climate change alters amphibians' habitats, so we expect a large number of species to be faced with loss of habitat and, ultimately, extinction," he observed.
Dr Garner added that species in Italy, Iberia and the Mediterranean region would bear the brunt of changes to the climate, but amphibians in all parts of Europe would be affected.
"In the UK, we are already seeing common toads losing condition and experiencing reduced survival.
"As climate change continues to impact habitats, the situation gets far worse for these native species."
As well as the climate threat, the researchers warned that two infectious diseases - a chytrid fungus and ranavirus - were also a serious threat to the animals' long-term survival.
Helen Meredith, amphibians co-ordinator for ZSL's Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) programme, warned: "There is no time to waste if we are to prevent further species loss.
"We need to reduce carbon emissions, but also address other pressing factors including habitat destruction and spread of diseases."
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