What are Amphibians?

Amphibians are ectothermic (they use the environment to generate their own body heat) creatures and are able to inhabit a variety of habitats; on the forest floor, underground, in the trees and aquatic freshwater systems (ponds, rivers, streams etc).Most amphibians begin their life in water at larval stage where they have developed gills to survive this life stage. As they grow they go through a phase called metamorphosis (the body changes shape and structure. Butterflies and moth go through a metamorphosis stage as well) developing into land living creatures with lungs instead of gills. At this stage their skin is highly permeable (allows liquids or gas to pass through) and they use this as a secondary form of respiration. However some species such as small frogs and salamanders solely rely on skin respiration.

Amphibians can be broken down into 3 sub-classes:

  • Lepospondyli (all extinct)
  • Temnospondyli (all extinct)
  • Lissamphibia (frogs, toads, salamanders, newts and caecilians)

The Lissamphibia sub-class are the only remaining class of Amphibians and can be further broken down into orders:

  • Salientia (frogs, toads and relatives)
  • Caudata (salamanders, newts and relatives)
  • Gymnophiona (caecilians and relatives)

Amphibians differentiate from reptiles as they require a water body to support their first stage of life (egg and larval stage). Due to such a complex life cycle and high skin permeability they are studied as indicator of ecosystem health as they are hugely influenced by whats contained within their environment. In many terrestrial ecosystems, they constitute one of the largest parts of the vertebrate biomass (keystone food source). Any decline in amphibian numbers (especially during our rainy season on the island) will affect the patterns of predation.

Ecosystem benefits

Amphibians support their ecosystem serving as a significant predator to small invertebrates, as abundant prey for larger predators, and as a vital link in the food web between the two. Studies have indicated a loss in amphibian presence correlates to increased crop damage and human disease.

Human benefits

Amphibians profoundly enhance our lives and our world in countless ways. They provide vital biomedicines, including compounds that are being refined for analgesics, antibiotics, stimulants for heart attack victims, and treatments for diverse diseases including depression, stroke, seizures, Alzheimer’s, and cancer. Their feeding behaviour reduces crop damage and the spread of disease. In some countries they are consumed for food and regarded as a delicacy.

This is a continual project so our website will be regularly updated with new information and species, so be patient as some areas of the website may be incomplete.

If you have any pictures or information from or about the island please help us to improve our database by sending your information through to us via our contact page