Group: Germany's Amphibians Threatened

BERLIN - This year's unusually warm winter could cause large numbers of amphibians to die in Germany, an environmental organization said Tuesday.

Unseasonably warm weather and rain over the last few days has already brought amphibians out of hibernation, the German-based Euronatur organization said.

With daily temperatures averaging 8-9 degrees Fahrenheit above normal, 2007 tied with 1975 as having the warmest weather in January since temperatures were first recorded in 1901, the German Weather Service said.

Newts already have been sighted in pools of water in southern Germany, and the first toads should be seen in the next few days if the weather continues to be warm, Euronatur said.

If a cold spell hits now, it could be especially deadly for newts, toads and other amphibians. Eggs could cease developing and adult animals, which are not able to return to hibernation in time, could die.

Shorter winters and hotter summers in Germany and other changes attributed to global climate change have depleted native amphibian populations, shortened the lifecycle of already threatened animals, and dried up small water pools that amphibians inhabit during the summer's hotter months.


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