The Global Amphibian Assessment (GAA) is a joint project of the Species Survival Commission (SSC) of IUCN—The World Conservation Union, the Center for Applied Biodiversity Science of Conservation International, and NatureServe. The goal of the GAA is to stimulate concerted and well-targeted activities to halt the current wave of amphibian extinctions, through the development of an information baseline on amphibian status and conservation needs.
To collect and manage the data, we developed a Microsoft Access database modeled on the standards and protocols of the IUCN Species Information Service. The GAA database contains fields for the following information for each species.
Systematics. Order, family, genus, species, taxonomic authority, commonly used synonyms, English and other common names (if any), and taxonomic notes (if needed to clarify taxonomic issues). We used Amphibian Species of the World as our default taxonomy, departing only in a few well-justified circumstances. We analyzed all species we were aware of that were described formally in the scientific literature before June 2004.
General Information. Textual narratives describing the geographic range, population status, habitat and ecology (including both breeding and non-breeding habitats and breeding strategy), threats, and conservation measures (in particular noting occurrence in protected areas).
Distribution Map. An ArcView-compatible digital distribution map of the extent of occurrence (see  for a definition). The maps are in the form of polygons that join known locations, and can consist of more than one polygon when there are known discontinuities in suitable habitat. Metadata attached to polygons indicate status including presence (extant or extirpated) and origin (native, introduced, re-introduced).
National Distribution. A list of countries where the species occurs, noting whether the species is native and extant, extirpated, introduced, or re-introduced.
Major Threats. A list of threats that act to decrease population size for the species, selected from a standard, hierarchical list of 176 threats (as defined in the IUCN Threat Authority File).
Red List Assessment. Based on the information above, IUCN Red List category, IUCN Red List criteria, rationale for the assessment, current population trend, names of assessors, date of assessment, and any notes related to Red Listing.
Bibliography. A list of important references. To the extent possible, we filled out all of these fields for each species. However, some species are too poorly known to be able to draw a range map, for example, or to complete other portions of the database. In addition, many species, especially in the tropics, actually are complexes of multiple, undescribed species. We treat these cases as single species pending resolution of their taxonomic status.
We compiled the data in three phases—initial data collection, data review, and data quality control and consistency check.
Phase 1: Initial Data Collection
We carried out the initial data collection regionally, appointing a coordinator responsible for initially collecting and entering data for all species for their region into the GAA database. We defined regions based primarily on political and secondarily on biogeographic boundaries. A few countries with small numbers of endemic species (e.g., El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Uruguay) did not have coordinators. We added data for species in these countries during the data review stage. The regions and coordinators for the New World are as follows (Table 1).
Phase 2: Data review
We subjected the data gathered in Phase 1 to extensive peer review by numerous specialists (see Appendix 1 for a list) using two methods—correspondence (for United States and Canada species) and expert workshop (all other species). The expert workshops gathered together herpetologists in regional settings to review, correct, and add to the information compiled in Phase 2. Participants received a printed copy of the data in advance and provided comments during the workshop as we worked through each species. Details of the workshops for New World species are as follows (Table 2).
Phase 3. Data quality control and consistence check
Once the reviews were completed for all species, we checked to ensure consistency of the data entered and especially the application of the Red List criteria. Although we attended the workshops, aiding in consistency, this final consistency check was necessary to standardize data collected over a nearly three-year period. The final database is searchable on the Internet.
Species Excluded from the Analysis
We excluded the following named species from the analysis because of uncertainty over the country of origin of the type specimens. In no case can any of these names be attributed to a currently known population of amphibians.
- ^Amphibian Species of the World
- ^ IUCN Red List – Definitions
- ^ IUCN Habitat Authority File
- ^ IUCN Threat Authority File
- ^ Global Amphibian Assessment
This is a chapter from Disappearing Jewels: The Status of New World Amphibians (e-book).
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