Karela Fry

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The search for lost frogs

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Rio Pescado stubfoot toad

Conservation International reports on an unique search:

Ranging from tiny poison dart frogs to the Chinese giant salamander (Andrias davidianus), the diverse class of creatures known as Amphibia is the most threatened group of vertebrates on the planet.

Habitat loss, disease and climate change have caused some species to vanish without a trace in a single breeding season; however, the status of many of the world’s amphibians is currently unknown due to limited and outdated research.

The Search for Lost Frogs, launched in August 2010 by Conservation International (CI) and the IUCN Amphibian Specialist Group (ASG), with support from Global Wildlife Conservation (GWC), sought to document the survival status and whereabouts of threatened amphibian species not seen in over a decade.

Over five months, CI supported expeditions by 126 researchers in 21 countries across five continents.

Among their findings:

  • In Ecuador, the rediscovery of the Rio Pescado stubfoot toad (Atelopus balios), one of the campaign’s top 10 “lost” frogs, and a species not seen since 1995. Researchers feared that the deadly amphibian chytrid fungus had wiped out this species; this find is significant and very encouraging. Three other amphibian species from our initial list of 100 “lost” species were also discovered.
  • In India, the rediscovery of five missing amphibian species (so far) by scientists who, inspired by CI’s global search, launched their own campaign to find local species. The rediscovered species include one that was last seen in 1874 and another which was found by pure chance in a rubbish bin.
  • In Haiti, six surprising rediscoveries of species in the country’s diminishing forest regions. These species — which include the ventriloquial frog (Eleutherodactylus dolomedes) and Mozart’s frog (E. amadeus) — had not been seen in two decades.
  • In Colombia, the discovery of three amphibian species potentially brand new to science.

Though these discoveries bring hope for the survival of certain species, overall they are sparse findings that should sound an urgent wake-up call for countries and prompt coordinated efforts to prevent further declines in the populations of these environmentally sensitive barometer-species. Bold conservation efforts are not only critical for the future of many amphibians themselves, but also for the benefit of humans that rely on pest control, nutrient cycling and other services the animals provide.

Much more there in those links if you are interested.

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