Global climate changes, including changes in atmospheric conditions, may be contributing to amphibian population declines. Studies of amphibians and ultraviolet radiation have concentrated on ultraviolet B (UV-B), the portion of the spectrum of most biological concern at the earth's surface. Higher wavelengths are less efficiently absorbed by critical biomolecules; lower wavelengths are absorbed by stratospheric ozone. UV-B radiation is known to induce the formation of photoproducts that can cause cell death or genetic mutations. Seasonal increases in UV-B irradiance linked to stratospheric ozone depletion are well documented at the poles, and there is evidence that UV-B radiation has increased in temperate latitudes. Laboratory studies show detrimental effects of UV-B radiation on amphibian growth, development, and behavior. Field studies demonstrate that ambient UV-B radiation adversely affects the developing embryos of some, but not all, species. Moreover, some recent studies have shown that ambient UV-B radiation may cause malformities. This chapter summarizes the methods, evidence, and implications of the effects of UV-B radiation on amphibians based on the results of field experiments.
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